Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Ecosystems and ecosystem services

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. 

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”.

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

In this blog post, Asaf Tzachor of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge describes four pathways by which the global food system could collapse. He calls for greater awareness that interactions between different processes (such as ocean acidification, climate change, wildfires and plant diseases) could lead to vicious cycles, and argues that policymakers should seek leverage points in the food system.

29 October 2019

On 22 September 2019, the Food and Land Use Coalition hosted the event "Securing Our Future: People, Food and Nature Solving the Planetary Emergency", which set out how leadership and innovative partnerships can change food systems to promote livelihoods while protecting ecosystems and the climate.

29 October 2019

This policy brief from the US non-profit think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics argues that the Amazon rainforest could reach a “tipping point” as soon as 2021, where deforestation means that the forest no longer generates enough rain to support itself and the forest begins to release large amounts of carbon instead of storing it.

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.

17 June 2019

According to this study of farmland birds in Finland, bird abundance is positively correlated with the nearby presence of organic animal farms, as well as the percentage of nearby field cover and the presence of natural grasslands.

11 June 2019

This report from UK charity Rewilding Britain argues that rewilding peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters in the UK could sequester carbon and also produce other benefits such as flood mitigation, enhanced biodiversity and water quality improvement.

29 April 2019

This report from the UK think tank Green Alliance sets out how the UK could bring its land use emissions to net zero. The actions proposed include ecosystem restoration, planting new areas of woodland, capturing carbon in soils, and reducing demand for meat and dairy.

16 April 2019

This report from the Animal Law and Policy Programme at Harvard Law School estimates the carbon sequestration potential of converting UK land currently used for animal agriculture into native forest. The remaining cropland is enough to provide more than the recommended calories and protein for all UK residents, according to the authors.

8 April 2019

Schools strike climate activist Greta Thunberg, along with several scientists, authors and campaigners, has called for “natural climate solutions” to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss simultaneously.

8 April 2019

This report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics estimates the value of ten ecosystems services provided by natural capital in Scotland. Information on agricultural biomass (including fish capture) and carbon sequestration may be of particular interest to FCRN readers.

20 March 2019

This report by US non-profit Centre for International Environmental Law reviews research on the human health impacts of plastics throughout their lifecycle, including extraction of fossil fuels, refining and production, consumer use, waste management, fragmenting and microplastics and accumulation of plastics in food chains.

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