Forests, biodiversity and food security


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The world faces many challenges in attempting to achieve global food
security, and one of those challenges is the continuing loss of forests and
biodiversity. How do we feed the world’s growing population while
maintaining its biodiversity? The answer could be in new approaches to
integrating agriculture and biodiversity.

CIFOR scientist Terry Sunderland explores the links between forests,
biodiversity and food security in this presentation, which he recently gave at the
2nd World Biodiversity Congress in Malaysia to more than 150 delegates.

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Forests, biodiversity and food security

  1. 1. Forests, biodiversity and food security Terry Sunderland, PhD 2nd World Biodiversity Congress, Kuching, MalaysiaTHINKING beyond the canopy 10th September 2011
  2. 2. Forests matter Biodiversity Make up 15% of Earth’s surface Home to 50%of land-based species THINKING beyond the canopy
  3. 3. Deforestation Net change-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 South America Africa Asia Europe North and Central America Oceania 1990-2000 2000-2005Source: FAO Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) 2005 THINKING beyond the canopy
  4. 4. What is food security?  Commonly accepted and used definition for food security: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life” (World Food Summit, 1996) THINKING beyond the canopy
  5. 5. However….  This definition infers that access to enough food is an adequate criterion to achieve food security  Yet access to food must be sustainable in the long term  Human well-being is closely related to access to wider environmental health such as access to clean water, sanitation and biodiverse productive ecosystems  Food security does not always equate to nutritional security THINKING beyond the canopy
  6. 6. Forests, biodiversity and food security  One billion people rely on forest products for nutrition and income  Biodiversity provides important safety-net during times of food insecurity  Wild harvested meat provides 30-50% of protein intake for many rural communities  75% of world’s population rely on biodiversity for primary health care  $90 billion / annum in (primarily invisible) NTFP trade  Products derived from genetic resources worth estimated $500 billion/year  45% of global food production comes from diverse small-holder systems  Long tradition of managing forests for food THINKING beyond the canopy
  7. 7. Forests matter Borneo Covers 1% of the Earth’s surface Contains more than 6% of plant, bird and mammal species Field surveys from East Kalimantan undertaken by CIFOR identified: • more than 2100 different species • these had over 3600 uses • 119 had no known substitute THINKING beyond the canopy
  8. 8. Global trends in food production  Agriculture began around 12,000 years ago  Approx. 7,000 plant species and several thousand animal species historically used for human nutrition and health  Since 1900, global trend towards diet simplification  Today, 12 plant crops and 14 animal species provide 98% of world’s food needs  Wheat, rice and maize: more than 50% of energy intake THINKING beyond the canopy
  9. 9. Effects of diet simplification  More than 800 million people are under-nourished and 200 million children are under-weight  In 2009, more than 1 billion people were classified as “hungry”: the highest number in history  Another 1 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, including Vitamin A, Iron, and Zinc  Greater incidence of Type II diabetes among urban dwellers  Vulnerability to catastrophic events: climate-related, pests and diseases, market forces THINKING beyond the canopy
  10. 10. Legacy of green revolution  Disaggregation of agriculture and natural resource management  Increases in food production have been achieved through high-input, intensive, and industrial agriculture that is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and agro-chemicals  Resulting in: • Pollution • Increased CO² emissions • Land conversion • Loss of biodiversity • Uneven distribution of food supplies • Loss of livelihoods for small holders THINKING beyond the canopy
  11. 11. Challenges to achieving global food security  Population growth  Climate change  Food inequity  Gender inequity  Globalisation  Continued forest and biodiversity loss THINKING beyond the canopy
  12. 12. Challenges: population growth  Global population estimated to grow to nine billion by 2050  If current agricultural model is followed, this will require conversion of further one billion ha of land  Changing diets: transition to meat-based diet very inefficient use of resources  How to feed the world’s population while conserving biodiversity? THINKING beyond the canopy
  13. 13. Challenges: climate change  The impacts of rising temperatures and more-extreme weather events will likely hurt the poor, especially rural farmers, the most  Agricultural yields in Africa could decline by more than 30 percent by 2050 (IPCC)  Biodiverse multi-functional landscapes more resilient to climate change effects and continue to provide ecosystem service  Recent climate-related events have led to increase in basic food prices and “food riots” THINKING beyond the canopy
  14. 14. THINKING beyond the canopy
  15. 15. Challenges: Food inequity Food inequity: While one billion people go hungry, one billion people are over-weight or obese (daily feast or famine) Food waste (post harvest and post purchase) Purchasing power: Singapore/Hong Kong are food secure, while India, a major agricultural producer, is not beyond the canopy THINKING
  16. 16. Challenges: agricultural investment  Since 2005, food prices have increased 50 to 80% in developing countries  Funding for agricultural development has dropped significantly over the last decade and are now at historic lows (only 4% of total overseas aid)  Developing country investment very low, despite contribution of agriculture to GDP THINKING beyond the canopy
  17. 17. Challenges: Gender inequity Women comprise up to 60% and 80% of small-holder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa respectively More likely to include diverse range of products Described as “guardians of food security” for the household Maternal health and nutrition is key for future productivity Many women lack access to land tenure, credit, extension services THINKING beyond the canopy
  18. 18. Culture and nature: what linkages?Homogenisation of culture = homogenisation of nature? THINKING beyond the canopy
  19. 19. Innovations for integrated biodiversity and food security benefits?  Marginal lands (in the tropics 480 million ha of land available)  Diversification of production systems: tree crops, inter-crops and maintenance of ecosystem services (incl. carbon storage)  Tenure reform  Conservation agriculture  Fair and equitable access to markets especially for small- holder farmers  Payments for Environmental Services? THINKING beyond the canopy
  20. 20. New approaches for integrating agriculture and biodiversity? “Eco-agriculture” (Scherr and McNeely 2006) “Conservation agriculture” (Hobbs et al. 2006) “New green revolution” (Time 2010) “New agriculture” (UNDP 2011) “Agro-ecological approach” (World Bank 2011) “Integrated management of biodiversity for food and agriculture” (FAO 2011)’ “Protecting biodiversity and ensuring food security are part of a single agenda” (Godfray 2011: Science) THINKING beyond the canopy
  21. 21. Guinea.. a success story Co-management of Classified Forests for conservation and livelihoods Agricultural intensification and diversification in and around classified forest areas Impacts have included up to threefold increases in local incomes, and significant expansion of vegetation cover Based on good governance and secure tenure THINKING beyond the canopy
  22. 22. Read more….  Special issue of International Forestry Review on “Forests, biodiversity and food security” to be published in November 2011 THINKING beyond the canopy
  23. 23. THINKING beyond the canopy