Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Land use and land use change

9 December 2019

The US think tank Breakthrough Institute has created an interactive series of graphs to visualise how the environmental impact of farming in the United States has changed over time, covering land use, nitrogen loss, water, herbicides, soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and spending on research and development.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory, Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 December 2019

This piece examines the data behind forest fires in Brazil, which attracted international attention during the summer of 2019. It concludes that the number of fires in August 2019 was nearly three times higher than in August 2018, and that the extent of deforestation was the highest since 2008, thus refuting the Brazilian government’s claim that August 2019 was “normal” for deforestation. Some contributors to the piece declined to be listed as authors so that they could stay anonymous.

Image: feelphotoz, Olio Di Palma, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
9 December 2019

According to this study of oil palm plantations in Colombia, converting pasture to oil palm plantation is almost carbon neutral, because declines in soil organic carbon are offset by gains in oil palm biomass over a period of several decades. The authors argue that planting oil palm on former pasture land is preferable to converting rainforest to plantations, as regards greenhouse gas emissions.

2 December 2019

This podcast, part of the BBC programme The Food Chain, explores initiatives that hope to change how palm oil is produced. It outlines some of the environmental and social issues associated with conventional palm oil production, and discusses a smallholder certification scheme in the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo.

2 December 2019

This book offers case studies and discussions of how urban food systems are governed. It discusses both the Global North and South. Topics include cultural heritage preservation, food sovereignty, entrepreneurship and land-use conflicts.

Image: Max Pixel, Shoot Fresh Forest Sprout Young Fir Tree Tree, Creative Commons Zero - CC0 Public Domain
25 November 2019

This paper modelled the food system changes in Europe that would allow enough afforestation, reforestation and avoided deforestation to meet European climate targets while also providing enough food. Most scenarios relied on significant yield improvements and reductions in meat consumption.

2 October 2019

This report from the Food and Land Use Coalition proposes ten critical transitions that could enable the food system to provide healthy diets for nine billion people by 2050 while also protecting the climate and biodiversity. The transitions are estimated to provide over 15 times more social benefit than their investment cost, which is likely to be less than 0.5% of global GDP.

Image: Max Pixel, Agriculture Tractor Arable, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2019

This paper explores ways of ending hunger without causing excessive environmental damage. It finds that ending hunger through economic growth alone (an approach that would try to increase overall food availability without addressing food consumption inequality) would require 20% more food production by 2030 than in business-as-usual, as well as generating higher carbon emissions and using more agricultural land.

18 September 2019

In August 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report on climate change and land, covering a variety of interlinked topics including desertification, land degradation, food security, water scarcity, negative emissions, and policy options for both adaptation and mitigation.

Image: nil2hoff, Birds rainforest birds, Pixabay, Pixabay License
18 September 2019

This paper models the global land use change implications of three different dietary scenarios up to the year 2100: business as usual with a continued shift away from pulses and starchy roots and towards animal products; a 95% global reduction in consumption of ruminant products compared to business as usual, with ruminant products to be replaced by cereals, pulses, starchy roots and oilcrops but other meat types to be consumed as in business as usual; and a 95% reduction in consumption of both ruminant and monogastric products. 

22 July 2019

The World Resources Institute has released its full and final report on “Creating a sustainable food future”. The report addresses the question “Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?”, specifically asking whether the food system can feed nearly 10 billion people adequately by 2050, without expanding the area of agricultural land, and while avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.

Image: Public Domain Pictures, Slices Of Bread On A White Background, CC0 Public Domain
22 July 2019

FCRN member Peter Alexander has co-authored this paper, which finds that incremental improvements in several areas of the food system (including production efficiency, reducing food waste and changing diets) could reduce agricultural land use by between 21% and 37%, depending on adoption rates. 

16 July 2019

Conservation NGO WWF has released the 40-minute film “Our planet, our business”, which sets out five principles for businesses to follow in order to protect nature and their own future.

9 July 2019

This report by James O’Donovan, chair of the Cork Environmental Forum, outlines the potential environmental, social, and economic benefits of a transition to a vegan agricultural system in Ireland.

Image: Max Pixel, Canopy spring beech, CC0 Public Domain
9 July 2019

This paper maps the potential for restoring forests across the world, finding that there is room for a 25% increase in forested area without interfering with existing forests or urban and cropland areas. This could store 205 Gt of carbon after several decades (for comparison, current emissions from fossil fuels and cement production are roughly 10 Gt of carbon each year).

25 June 2019

The Oxford Martin School has helped to develop NaturEtrade, an online marketplace for ecosystems services. Landowners or managers can set a price that they would accept in return for keeping their land in its present ecological condition, rather than putting it to other uses that might degrade it. Buyers who want the land to remain unchanged, e.g. a business further downstream that wants to limit flooding, can enter into a contract with the landowner or manager.

25 June 2019

This report from the US-based Breakthrough Institute suggests that increasing the productivity of grazing systems, particularly in lower-income countries, can help to shrink the area of land used as pasture.

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