Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Ecosystems and ecosystem services

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.

8 July 2020

This paper examines the factors that link ecosystem services and the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It also discusses policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

17 June 2020

This briefing from UK NGO Sustain examines pressures on land in the UK and overseas, including the impacts of agriculture and the foods we choose to eat. It considers competing land uses such as biodiversity, hedgerows, food production, supporting new entrants into farming, climate mitigation, bioenergy production and land for leisure.

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.

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 paper combines data on zoonotic viruses in mammals with trends in species abundance. It finds that wild land mammal species with larger populations generally harbour a greater number of zoonotic viruses. Furthermore, among mammal species that are threatened, those that are threatened because of exploitation (e.g. hunting or wildlife trade) or loss of habitat host approximately twice as many viruses as mammals that are threatened for other reasons.

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 book examines how communities of microorganisms (microbiomes) affect their multicellular hosts, including soil, plant, animal and human hosts. It discusses how microbiomes affect the behaviour, nutrition and disease susceptibility of their hosts.

7 April 2020

This report from the UK’s Royal Society synthesises existing evidence on the links between soil structure and four benefits: biodiversity, agricultural productivity, clean water/flood prevention and climate change mitigation. It also discusses measurement of soil structure and sets out policy recommendations.

31 March 2020

This report, commissioned by the UK charity Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, assesses a selection of measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. It looks at their potential impacts on biodiversity, climate and resource protection to identify which solutions offer synergy between climate and nature, and where there is a risk of conflict.

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 report from the John Hopkins Centre for a Livable Future reviews the most prominent publications on True Cost Accounting, i.e. assessment of the externalities caused by an industry. It looks at how various True Cost Accounting frameworks can be applied to the food system.

24 February 2020

This report from the global wildlife foundation WWF assesses the global economic impacts of nature loss. It finds that under a business-as-usual scenario, global GDP in 2050 could be 0.67% lower than if six ecosystems services (crop pollination, carbon storage, marine fisheries, protection of coasts from flooding/erosion, water supply and timber production) remain unchanged - a cumulative cost of US$10 trillion. A global conservation strategy could increase global GDP by 0.02% in 2050 relative to no change in these six ecosystems services.

18 February 2020

The UK government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published a set of resources on “enabling a natural capital approach” (ENCA) to guide policymakers and decisionmakers. 

Pages