More biodiverse farming and harvesting food from forests can help food security
With over one billion people going to bed hungry each night and more than 800 million people suffering from nutrient deficiencies causing long-term negative health impacts as big an issue in the 21st century as it ever has been.
Contemporary models of agricultural monoculture have led to a devastating loss of biodiversity and, of course, our petrochemical-based, industrial-scale agriculture also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
Although many thousands of plant species have contributed to human nutrition over the millenia, today just 12 plant crops and 14 animal species today provide 98% of human food needs. Wheat, rice and maize alone account for more than half of the human global energy intake. This trend towards diet simplification has negative impacts on food security, nutritional balance and also health.
For increased resilience to the effects of environmental challenges and simultaneously to decrease vulnerability for rural populations, we need increased diversity of agricultural production. Even standing rainforests can provide access to an important range of fruits, nuts and animal protein, at the same time maintaining biodiversity and food diversity.
According to CIFOR (Centre for International Forestry Research), as the world becomes increasingly urbanized, populations are particularly vulnerable to increases in food prices. The food riots in Cameroon and Haiti in 2008 and the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt last year have all been directly linked to increased prices of basic foodstuffs.