Pollution, overfishing and overexploitation are some of the causes of the loss of biodiversity both in our crops and in our food.
Biodiversity is the set of all living beings on the planet, including all kinds of organisms, animals, plants and ecosystems, but why is biodiversity so important?
If we lose the biological wealth of the planet, we lose fundamental benefits for humanity such as food security, energy security and the access to both clean water and raw materials. Its loss can mean a change in the way in which people socialize, and also in how we make choices, since no matter if we don’t realize it, we depend on biodiversity. The moment we alter the ecosystem, the rest is also altered.
According to the last report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the main causes of the loss of biodiversity for food and agriculture would be pollution, overfishing and overexploitation. Thus, our lifestyle is the one that would harm us in the future. Furthermore, factors such as changes in the use and management of land and water, climate change, urbanization and population growth would also be accelerating the loss of the ecological variety of our planet.
We must take into account that the variety of species contribute to vital ecosystem services for our food, our crops included. Practically, all ecosystems on Earth have gone through a radical transformation at an uncontrolled speed, accelerating the rate of extinction of different species of animals and plants one hundred times with respect to the natural rhythm. According to experts, about a million species are in danger of extinction today.
This influences the way we eat and cultivate the land, in addition to the quality of our products. Pollinators, soil organisms and natural enemies of pests are essential to nature and are disappearing, causing agriculture and food to be increasingly exposed to pests and diseases.
As reported by Ecología Verde, Spain is considered the most vulnerable country in the European Union in terms of species conservation. Because of deterioration of its flora and fauna, more than 200 species have been extinguished, and it’s estimated that close to 50% of its biodiversity has decreased in recent decades. Some alarming data, considering that Spain is the country with the greatest biodiversity in the entire European Union. This is due to the fragmentation and degradation of habitats, deforestation and unsustainable tourism, among other factors that threaten our biodiversity.
In the case of Africa, other key factors in habitat loss are hunting and stealth, while in Latin America and the Caribbean it is pests, diseases and invasive species. However, if these continents have something in common is that what damages biodiversity the most is overexploitation and deforestation.
The loss of forests represents a threat to global biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services such as provision of habitat, clean water, and conservation and protection of land. In addition, it reduces the options available to modify production systems in the interest of the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
During recent decades, Restoration practices have gained an important place on the environmental agenda. If posed well, they could have simultaneous benefits in the productivity of agriculture, the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.
Among ecosystems of importance for food and agriculture, forests and fields, as well as a variety of marine and freshwater ecosystems and coastal ecosystems, are widely recognized as biodiversity restoration priorities.
The state of Earth's biodiversity for food and agriculture can improve as long as the improvement in human activity when producing is prioritized, paying special attention to the threats we face due to climate change.