Food Security Measures May Jeopardize Animal Conservation Efforts
According to TranquilEye’s World Clocks calculation, human population is increasing by three people every second, while one hectare of productive land is lost every 7.67 seconds. If the current trend continues, food shortage, price increase, and mass starvation are not unlikely to occur in the future.
The steady increase of the human population is cranking up numbers in calculations of how long existing arable and productive land in the world can adequately support its needs. Barring the complications of disproportionate distribution of food in the world, scientists are looking for solutions to increase agricultural production to ensure food security both for the present and the future.
With soil degradation, topsoil loss, nutrient depletion and other factors decreasing arable land in the world, some are looking towards the utilization of unused arable land. News Daily reports of the potential of an African “green revolution” to contribute to world food security. According to Namanga Ngongi, former president of AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), Africa has the capacity to rebound from suffering from food deficit to producing food surplus, if only (land) productivity is increased by 50%. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly being looked over for its large portions of unused arable land.
But will finding bigger productive and arable lands the solution? An article published in Animal Conservation warns of the negative effects of pursuing the world food security agenda. It focuses particularly on the area of animal conservation in terrestrial ecosystems. According to the article, an increase of 43% in crop production and 124% in meat production is anticipated by 2030 to adequately feed the growing human population, currently 7 billion strong and increasing. The pressure to meet the growing food demand and the resulting price increase might affect animal conservation negatively. One is by driving people (especially in the rural areas) to turn to increased hunting of wildlife. Other species might be targeted as growing demand for traditional targets increase competition. Increasing deforestation and conversion of marginal land into agricultural land may cause habitat loss for animals. Habitat specialists and large predators are particularly vulnerable to the risk of extinction due to conversion of their habitats into agricultural land. Animal Conservation also cites the possible negative effects of protective measures against pre-harvest consumption of wild animals. As crops grow more precious, protecting them may entail more aggressive measures against wild animals which consume them.
The article suggests an increase in efforts to study landscape management to reduce pressure on agricultural development and implementation of wildlife-friendly farming techniques. Integrated biological control is also desirable for both increasing production as well as benefiting wildlife.
It may also be suggested that radical farming methods such as soil less agriculture and vertical farming can also lessen the pressure to convert more lands into agricultural land. Changes in consumption habits and patterns can also help, such as lessening consumption of resource-hungry crops. Another important step is to stop wasting food and make the most of what is at hand.
As the article puts it, it is crucial for animal conservation and food security agenda to support each other, rather than struggle against each other in meeting their goals. Making agricultural lands more sustainable, utilizing what we already have, and managing our resources seem to be better strategies than reaching out for more. As we grab more land, less is left for other creatures dependent on them. Unlike us, animals do not have that many options and alternatives.
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