Stating that increasing food security without drastically diminishing forest cover is a major challenge,The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called on for concerted and collective action in halting deforestation and boosting forest restoration.
The FAO in its latest report Halting deforestation from agricultural value chains: the role of governments said that governments have a crucial role to play in halting deforestation so that agrifood systems are sustainable.
With global population projected at an increase by up to 50 percent by 2050, requiring 165 to 600 million more ha of land for crop and livestock production, The FAO said that the world cannot afford to continue losing vital biodiversity and forest resources. “Yield increases alone would be insufficient to meet demand and protect forests. Therefore, yield improvements must be paired with other interventions that strengthen governance, protect forests and promote the achievement of economic, environmental and social sustainability. Opportunities exist to develop complementary approaches to food production and forest conservation that benefit both forests and agrifood systems,” the FAO said.
In the report, the FAO said that persistent trade-offs between agriculture and forests, with competition for land among the most notable; responsible for almost 90 percent of global deforestation between 2000 and 2018, agricultural expansion for crop land and livestock grazing is the largest driving force of forest loss. It said that 420 million ha of forest have been lost through deforestation since 1990 and deforestation continues, although the rate has slowed from 11 million ha per year in the decade 2000–2010 to 8.8 million ha per year in the period 2010–2018.
FOREST; FOOD HABITS
Apart from population growth, the report said that consumption habits, shifting diets, food loss and waste, and increased affluence also led the agriculture sector to produce more and different types of food. “At the same time, and degradation and the consequences of climate change reduce the availability and productivity of arable land. In a business-as-usua scenario, these trends will continue leading to the conversion of forest land into agriculture, exacerbating a vicious cycle that will lead to catastrophic impacts on climate and biodiversity,” the report said.
FOREST; ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
To stop and reverse negative dynamics of forest loss associated with agriculture, the report said that the governments can play a major role.
Governments may act in several areas, such as: establishing an enabling environment, assessing coherence and enforcement of policies and regulatory frameworks, establishing monitoring capacities and access to reliable and transparent data, investing in capacity development and knowledge generation or direct support to more sustainable agricultural practices without negative impacts on forests (“forest positive agriculture’), and adopting measures and incentives to promote more sustainable production, markets and trade.
The report recommends that governments pay special attention to smallholder farmers, who produce roughly 35 percent of the world’s food, but often live in poverty and cannot afford the costs or interruptions to income incurred through changing the way they work.