Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Conservation/biodiversity

16 November 2015

This paper argues that the failure of protected areas to guard biodiversity partly reflects a lack of science available. The paper offers strategic guidance on the types of science needed to be conducted so protected areas can be placed and managed in ways that support the overall goal to avert biodiversity loss.

30 September 2015

New research from Cambridge University finds that providing farmers and farmer industries with financial incentives to mitigate agriculture’s impact on the environment positively effects greenhouse gas reduction and increased biodiversity at the aggregate level.

The study analysed investment in two key types of agri-environment schemes: measures to spare land for conservation, and measures (such as taxation) intended to limit fertiliser use. The research team plotted this against national trends for farmland bird populations and emissions from synthetic fertiliser across the US, Canada, Australia and Europe.

23 June 2014

This study in BioScience compares coverage of biodiversity and climate change in newspapers, scientific articles, and research funding decisions, and finds that climate change eclipsed biodiversity loss as a priority in the mid-2000s.

21 November 2013

The CDP Global Forests Report 2013, launched on 20 November 2013 provides an analysis of the global companies that responded to CDP’s 2013 forests information request on behalf of 184 investors with $13 trillion in assets. The report provides an insight into how companies are addressing their exposure to risks from the agricultural commodities responsible for most deforestation globally. 

24 June 2013

The debate on land sharing versus land sparing is ongoing and we addressed the issue somewhat in our Agroforestry interview a while back. This blog post by journalist and author Fred Pearce highlights some of the recent years’ debate and presents evidence from various parts of the world, either in favor of sparing or sharing land.

29 January 2013

A study published in the journal Small Ruminant Research notes that many breeds of goat are at great risk of disappearing. A study from the Regional Service of Agro-Food Research and Development (SERIDA) analysed the global situation - the state of different breeds, the multiple implications of their conservation, their interaction with other animal species, and the consequences of goat grazing from an environmental viewpoint. The authors found that the biggest loss in the genetic resources of indigenous goats has been observed in Europe.

24 January 2013

We’re overusing the earth’s finite resources, and yet excessive consumption is failing to improve our lives. In Enough Is Enough, Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill lay out an alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth – an economy where the goal is enough, not more. They explore specific strategies to conserve natural resources, stabilize population, reduce inequality, fix the financial system, create jobs, and more – all with the aim of maximizing long-term well-being instead of short-term profits.

25 October 2012

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.

24 September 2012

A paper published in Ecology Letters finds that ecosystems with a high degree of biodiversity can cope with more stress, such as higher temperatures or increasing salinity, than those with less biodiversity.

31 July 2012

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project.  

19 June 2012

This paper points out that the potential for producing bioenergy from crops depends on a great many factors including assumptions about gains in agricultural productivity, patterns of food demand, political stability, policies on biodiversity and so forth.

31 May 2012

In 2009, Rockström et al published a paper in Nature which proposed the concept of nine planetary boundaries, which we must keep within if we are not to suffer potentially catastrophic consequences. More recently Nature has published an interesting opinion piece on the boundaries idea.  

31 May 2012

WWF has published its latest biennial report on the state of the planet in time for the Rio+20 summit in June. 

25 March 2012

This paper firstly considers the argument that intensification in the Brazililan livestock sector can help reduce land use change pressures (the ‘land sparing’ argument). It then uses an economic model-based analysis to make the point that intensification in the Brazilian livestock sector to increase productivity on a given area of land will only halt deforestation if it is accompanied by policies to alter the fact that extensifive cattle rearing is still marginally profitable.

9 March 2012

Aljazeera video series earthrise takes an upbeat look at ecological, scientific, technological and design projects all around the world, from a farm in Australia growing low impact crops using sea water and solar power, to an ingenious project that has dramatically cut rhino poaching on a South African game reserve.

17 February 2012

This paper looks at the GHG, energy and biodiversity implications of different types of farming systems, taking into account alternative possible uses, and environmental implications of those uses, for any land freed by more intensive production practices (the opportunity cost). 

16 January 2012

A paper in Science reports on a study which finds a correlation betweeen species diversity and multifunctionality – ie the number of ecosystem services it performs.  The study focuses on drylands on all continents except Antarctica. It concludes that plant biodiversity is crucial to buffering the negative effects of climate change and desertification in drylands.

21 May 2010

In November 2009 Japan's Ministry of the Environment released an Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and the Biodiversity in Japan 2009, Abridged and Illustrated for Easy Understanding.