Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Conservation/biodiversity

21 October 2020

This paper finds that targeting ecosystem restoration efforts towards 15% of converted lands (i.e. areas that have been converted away from their natural state to cropland or pasture) could prevent 60% of expected extinctions in mammals, amphibians and birds and sequester 299 Gt CO2. It identifies differing priority areas depending on whether the outcomes are optimised for biodiversity, climate mitigation, cost minimisation or all three.

15 October 2020

This short and highly readable paper argues that “creative imagination” and positive stories about the future are necessary for generating solutions, in contrast to “purely technocratic” approaches, which fail to motivate people. It sketches out three possible scenarios for biodiversity and food production in the year 2050, noting that none are inevitable.

23 September 2020

This report from the Convention on Biological Diversity summarises the most recent information on trends in biodiversity. It finds that none of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets - the deadline for most of which is 2020 - have been fully met, although six of the targets have been partially met. It also describes the areas of the targets where progress has been made.

23 September 2020

This paper reports that reforesting areas of land in the UK currently used for sheep grazing could be an economically viable strategy for farmers, using payments for carbon sequestration from people or businesses who want to offset their emissions The paper argues that sheep farming in the UK is not profitable without subsidies, which currently account for over 90% of sheep farm income. 

14 July 2020

According to this paper, coconut oil cultivation puts a much greater number of species at risk per million tonnes of oil than other oils, including palm oil, despite narratives about the environmental impacts of oils usually focusing on deforestation caused by palm oil cultivation.

23 June 2020

This report from the European Commission’s Science for Environment Policy describes the importance of pollinators (such as bees, flies and moths) for food production and for nature. It identifies several drivers of pollinator loss and sets out methods of monitoring pollinator populations.

9 June 2020

The interim report of the UK think tank Institute for Public Policy Research’s Environmental Justice Commission sets out a vision for the transformation of society and the economy. It argues that it is essential to put people at the heart of solving the climate and nature crises.

27 May 2020

This paper finds that global cropland use could be almost halved while maintaining current output levels by optimising fertiliser inputs and re-allocating the production location of 16 major crops. Co-benefits would include reduced emissions from fertilisers and rice paddies, lower irrigation water requirements, and land being freed up for sequestering carbon through restoring natural vegetation.

26 May 2020

This book provides an overview of peatlands and their importance around the world, including chapters on peatland destruction and restoration projects.

12 May 2020

This paper examines the effectiveness of different forms of ecological compensation schemes - i.e. offsetting biodiversity lost to developments such as oil palm plantations or mines - in achieving “No Net Loss” of biodiversity. Using simulations of four case studies, it finds that none of the 18 ecological compensation policy designs studied would achieve No Net Loss of native vegetation extent. 

5 May 2020

This interim report from the Dasgupta review on the economics of biodiversity, commissioned by the UK’s HM Treasury, sets out the main economic and scientific concepts that will inform the final review. The aim of the review is to assess the economic benefits of biodiversity, and the economic costs of its loss. It will also identify actions that can protect and enhance both biodiversity and economic prosperity.

5 May 2020

This paper uses temperature and precipitation projections across the ranges of over 30,000 species on land and in water to estimate when each species will be exposed to dangerous climate conditions. It predicts that most species within a given assemblage (group of species within a habitat) will encounter inhospitable climate conditions at the same time as each other (e.g. several species might have a similar upper limit on the temperature that they are able to cope with), meaning that disruption of the overall assemblage is likely to be abrupt.

29 April 2020

This report from the International Institute for Environment and Development explores the potential to use “biocredits” to protect biodiversity. Biocredits are an economic instrument that allows the creation and trade of “biodiversity units”. Biocredits would be bought by people or institutions that want to invest in protecting biodiversity, and the money from their initial sale would fund conservation activities that increase biodiversity above a baseline level. The report distinguishes between biocredits and biodiversity offsets, which are used to compensate for habitats that have been destroyed, e.g. because of construction projects.

7 April 2020

This paper argues that substantially rebuilding the health of marine ecosystems is both necessary for human thriving and achievable within a generation. While marine ecosystems are under pressure from overfishing, pollution, oxygen depletion and other stressors, the authors point out that many remote areas of the ocean are still wild and large populations of marine mammals still exist and are capable of recovering if given the chance.

16 March 2020

This e-book from the international climate nonprofit Project Drawdown reviews the world’s options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The top solutions related to food and land (see section 1.2 of the book) are reducing food waste, shifting to plant-rich diets, protecting ecosystems such as peatland and forests, and shifting agricultural practices (e.g. improving rice production).

3 March 2020

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic formed as larger pieces break down in the environment, or else intentionally manufactured (e.g. as microbeads for cleaning products or pellets for industrial use). This paper reviews the current state of knowledge on their human health implications and effects on ecosystems. 

24 February 2020

This explainer from Carbon Brief outlines nine interlinked “tipping points” where climate warming could trigger an abrupt change. They include disintegration of ice sheets, changes in ocean circulation, thawing of permafrost, and dieback of ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs.