Showing results for: Land use and land use change
Approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. This FAO report argues that this waste represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security, and to mitigate the environmental impacts resulting from the food supply chain.
Oxfam has published a report, Behind the Brands, which assesses the ethical performance of the ‘big 10’ food companies against criteria such as transparency of supply chains and operations, ensuring the rights of workers, protection of women's rights, the management of water and land use, policies to reduce the impacts of climate change and ensuring farmers’ rights.
The Program for the Human Environment at the Rockefeller University has released a report suggesting that farmland useage might have peaked and the land required for agriculture will start to shrink. The authors predict that in the next half-century, a geographical area more than twice the size of France will return to its natural state from farmland. The Rockefeller researchers say factors such as slower population growth, declines in deforestation, and improved agricultural yields have spared the “unimaginable destruction of nature.”
The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU) has published a policy brief that investigates the relationship between farming practice and sustainability at landscape scales. The vital role played by biodiversity in providing services that support life on Earth has become clearer in recent years, requiring increased care to maintain them. There are strong debates, however, about how to achieve a balance between increased and more sustainable production. One aspect of the debate suggests that this could best be achieved by some areas specialising in intensive farming, while other areas are managed for wildlife, rather than aiming to farm entire landscapes in a wildlife-friendly manner. This is sometimes known as the “land sparing versus land sharing debate.”
The paper notes that thinking at the landscape scale is key to understanding the environmental costs/benefits of a farm, because:
• A farm is part of a larger landscape and its environmental impact depends partly on the bio-physical environment and the way neighbourhood farms are managed.
• The environmental context is created by different habitats, topologies, soils and climate, making different places ecologically and environmentally different.
• Neighbourhood effects arise as different species of wildlife may move across many farms during their lives, or may move from farmed land to non-farmed land nearby at different stages of their life cycles.
• Some landscapes may be more naturally biodiverse than others, or be better suited to intensive production.
While the paper focuses on the UK context, the general issues it explores are relevant to other contexts and at wider scales. The full paper can be found here.
This modelling study, published in Global Change Biology, finds that if indirect land use change (iLUC) factors are not accounted for when assessing the GHG balance of biofuels, then “the Renewable Energy Directive could be expected to deliver only a 4% carbon saving compared to fossil fuel, with a 30% chance that it would actually cause a net emissions increase.”
This paper, co written by FCRN mailing list member Kurt Schmidinger argues that the ‘missed potential carbon sink’ - - the carbon sequestering opportunity cost of using land for livestock (and presumably for other agricultural commodities as well as for other activities) needs to be taken into account in calculating the CO2eq emissions arising from any activity.
This paper runs a series of future trade liberalisation scenarios using the MAGPIE model and finds that while trade liberalisation lowers food costs it does so at the expense of higher GHG emissions.
The State of Land and Water Resources (SOLAW) is FAO's first flagship publication on the global status of land and water resources. It is an 'advocacy' report and will be published every three to five years.
This report on biomass production is well worth reading. It aims to support informed debate about the amount of biomass that might be available globally for energy, taking account of sustainability concerns.
In September, Wilton Park hosted a conference on ‘Global Land Use: Policies for the future’. The conference was the second in a series on ‘Agriculture, food and land use: the international policy challenges’.
If you only read one report highlighted in this section – read this. It’s a study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change as supporting research for the publication of its latest Annual Report and is a really fascinating piece of work.
The purpose of this briefing paper is to explore the different ways in which one might view the contributions that livestock in intensive and extensive systems make to greenhouse gas emissions.
This paper summarises the presentations and discussions that took place at a workshop organised by the Food Climate Research Network on 21 January 2010.