News FAO: Biodiversity Threats

Once lost biodiversity for food and agriculture (all the species that underpin food systems and support people who grow and / or produce food) can no longer be recovered. This is prevented by a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

"This loss undermines our ability to feed and feed a growing global population. This reduces our effectiveness in the face of the growing challenges of climate change and limits our ability to cultivate without harming the environment, "said José Graziano da Silva, Director General of FAO. "Less biodiversity means that plants and animals are more vulnerable to pests and diseases ...", he adds.

Concerned URL
Source Fatim-Zahra TOHRY | L'
Release date 27/02/2019
Geographical coverage Morocco
Keywords Biodiversity, food, FAO, threats, agrobiodiversity

The report, which quotes several cases, including that of Morocco, shows that urbanization is one of the threats. He also noted that the rapid expansion of the population in areas rich in biodiversity for food and agriculture, the removal of sand and rocks sites such as coastal dunes and wadis for the construction result in the loss of habitats and the species they shelter. In Egypt, rising temperatures will lead to northward shifts in fish species' ranges, with repercussions on fish production.

The new study highlights the reduction of plant diversity in farmers' fields, increasing the number of livestock breeds endangered and the increase in the proportion of overexploited fish stocks. Of some 6,000 species of plants grown for food, less than 200 contribute substantially to world food production and only nine of them account for 66% of total agricultural production.

World animal production is based on about 40 animal species, of which only a handful provides the vast majority of meat, milk and eggs. Of the 7,745 local livestock breeds listed by country in the world, 26% are threatened with extinction.

Nearly a third of fish stocks are overexploited and more than half have reached their limit of resistance.

Wild food species and many species contributing to essential ecosystem services to food and agriculture, including pollinators, soil organisms and the natural enemies of pests disappear quickly.

For example, countries report that 24% of some 4,000 species of wild foods (mainly plants, fish and mammals) are declining sharply. But the proportion of declining wild foods would be even greater, as the true status of more than half of the reported wild food species is unknown.

The largest number of declining wild food species is reported in Latin American and Caribbean countries, followed by countries in Asia-Pacific and Africa. This may be due to the fact that wild food species are more studied and / or reported in these countries than in others.

Many species associated with biodiversity are also critically endangered. They include birds, bats and insects that help control pests and diseases, soil biodiversity and wild pollinators such as butterflies, bees, bats and birds.

Forests, grasslands, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and wetlands in general (essential ecosystems provide many services to food and agriculture and home to countless species) are also experiencing a rapid decline.

The main factors in the loss of food and agricultural biodiversity, cited by most reporting countries, are changes in land and water use and management, followed by pollution, over-exploitation and overfishing, climate change, population growth and urbanization.

In the case of associated biodiversity, while all regions report habitat alteration and loss as a major threat, other key factors vary from region to region. These are overexploitation, hunting and poaching in Africa; deforestation, changes in land use and intensification of agriculture in Europe and Central Asia; overexploitation, pests, diseases and invasive species in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to overexploitation in the Near East and North Africa and deforestation in Asia.

Recommended practices

The report cites some practices and approaches that respect biodiversity. Several countries have put in place legal, policy and institutional frameworks for its sustainable use and conservation ... but they are often inadequate or insufficient. Opportunities to develop more markets for biodiversity-friendly products could be explored further. Experts also highlight the role that the general public can play in reducing pressures on this biodiversity. Consumers should be able to opt for sustainably grown products, buy directly from farmers' markets or boycott foods considered unsustainable. In many countries, "citizen scientists" play an important role in monitoring and advancing research.

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