Our food systems and biodiversity are intimately connected. Without diverse ecosystems food production could not occur, including pollination by insects, nutrient cycling, regulation of the water cycle and pest control. Protecting the genetic diversity of species used in food and agriculture is vital since, according to FAO, they are “the biological basis of world food security and, directly or indirectly, support the livelihoods of every person on Earth”.
Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate, partly due to the scale and methods of modern agriculture. There are many policies, schemes and approaches to land use and farming that recognise the need to protect biodiversity, and there is an urgent need to expand such approaches.
Growing global demand for meat and dairy poses significant threats to biodiversity too, through the destruction of tropical habitats for cattle grazing and the significant contributions made by livestock to climate change.
According to the United Nation’s 2007 ‘Earth audit’, biodiversity loss poses an enormous challenge to the Millennium Development Goals of halving hunger and extreme poverty by 2015.