Report: Biodiversity crisis: Technological advances in agriculture are not a sufficient response
World population and the global economy are growing. People want consumer goods and food. As a result, more and more land is needed and nature is converted into fields and plantations: a threat to biodiversity and the ecosystem services that nature provides to humans. The usual response by policy makers to this sustainability challenge is to promote increases in agricultural and forestry efficiency through technological methods. But is this enough?
Scientists led by the iDiv research centre and the University of Halle have determined how land use affects biodiversity and ecosystem services and, for the first time, in what ways this impact has changed over time. They examined the role that population growth and economic development play in the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services globally by combining data on biodiversity, land use and the sequestration of CO2 with economic models for the period between 2000 and 2011.
The results show that the growing world population and expanding global economy are resulting in more land use everywhere. This destroys biodiversity and ecosystem services. For example, between 2000 and 2011, the number of bird species endangered due to land use increased by up to seven percent. During the same period, the planet lost six percent of its potential to absorb CO2 from the air; this is because vegetation planted on newly created farmland cannot absorb as much carbon as that in natural habitats.
Photo courtesy of Pavel Ahmed.