FAO’s report about biodiversity

Mar 06, 2019
Sébastien Bouley

FAO publishes the first report of its kind regarding the state of biodiversity for food and agriculture. Biodiversity for food and agriculture includes all plants and animals that provide food for humans, feed, fuels and fiber but also organisms that support food production through ecosystem and environment called “associated biodiversity” such as insects, bats, birds, mangroves, corals, seagrasses, earthworms, fungi and soil bacteria.

This report, produced by FAO under the direction of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, is based on information provided specifically for its development by 91 countries and on the analysis of the latest global data. Here are the main conclusions of this report:

  • The basis of our food systems is seriously threatened

The report highlights the reduction of plant diversity in farmers’ fields, the increase in the number of endangered livestock breeds, and the increase in the proportion of overexploited fish stocks. Of 6 000 species of plants grown for food, less than 200 contribute substantially to global food production and 9 of these 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 is overexploited and more than half has reached the limit of resistance.

The largest number of declining wild food species is reported in Latin American and Caribbean countries, followed by countries in Asia-Pacific and Africa. Many species associated with biodiversity are also critically endangered. Forests, pastures, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and wetlands in general are also declining rapidly.

  • Causes of biodiversity loss

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, individual countries report habitat alteration and loss as a major threat, other key factors vary from region to region.

  • Favorable practices for biodiversity are rising, how to reverse the trend leading to the loss of biodiversity

The report highlights a growing interest in biodiversity-friendly practices and approaches. Eighty per cent of 91 reporting countries report using one or more biodiversity-friendly practices and approaches. It calls on governments and the international community to make greater efforts to support and promote biodiversity initiatives and address the major drivers of biodiversity loss. Greater efforts must also be made to improve the state of knowledge on biodiversity for food and agriculture.

For more information, you can view the report on this link.

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