Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Conservation/biodiversity

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.

24 February 2020

This report from the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development draws on the experiences of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand to examine how land use policy can be aligned with climate, biodiversity and food objectives.

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

This review paper examines how people are increasingly using the ocean - even previously inaccessible areas - for seafood, animal feed, nutraceuticals (such as omega-3 fatty acids), fuels and minerals, shipping, waste disposal and many other purposes. It argues that the view of the ocean as being too big to be affected by humans is now outdated, and that effective governance is required to manage the ocean’s ecological health while allowing sustainable use of its resources.

28 January 2020

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has released a draft plan to protect biodiversity, ahead of a summit in China in October. The plan sets out 20 actions which could, by 2030, “put biodiversity on a path to recovery for the benefit of planet and people”.

20 January 2020

According to the Global Risks Report 2020 by the global NGO World Economic Forum, the five risks with the greatest likelihood of happening all relate to the environment (as opposed to the economy, society, geopolitics or technology). The five risks are: extreme weather, climate action failure, natural disasters, biodiversity loss and human-made environmental disasters.

7 January 2020

In this piece for The Conversation, Dan Evans, PhD researcher in soil science at Lancaster University, explains his research on rates of soil formation and erosion. His measurements on a farm in Nottinghamshire, UK suggest that the top 30 cm of soil there could disappear within 138 years because the rate of erosion exceeds the rate of soil formation. 

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.

25 November 2019

In this report, the Nature Friendly Farming Network argues that, if given enough financial support, UK farmers can produce food in a way that both protects wildlife and reduces the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The report also suggests that having a diet of “less meat and dairy but of better quality” could be environmentally beneficial.

25 November 2019

Some conservationists propose a “Half Earth” strategy, whereby half of the Earth’s land and half of its sea would be set aside for natural ecosystems. This paper assesses the number and geographical distribution of people who could be affected by the Half Earth conservation plan.

19 November 2019

This report, commissioned by the Wildlife Trusts (a group of UK charities), summarises existing evidence on declines in insects, many types of which have substantially decreased in abundance since 1970 (see for example Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers). It also explores the drivers of these declines and calls for an urgent halt to “all routine and unnecessary use of pesticides”.

11 November 2019

This report from environmental campaign group Greenpeace International finds that abandoned fishing gear (whether discarded intentionally or accidentally) can be a hazard to marine wildlife for many years, partially due to the durability of the plastic used to make ropes, nets and lines.

29 October 2019

According to this report from UK charity the Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association, mixtures of pesticides can be more harmful to human health than the sum of the toxicity of the individual pesticides would suggest. 

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. 

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