A new report from The National Wildlife Federation offers policy recommendations to reconcile the conflicting demands of forest conservation, agricultural production and climate change mitigation.
Addressing the questions of how to feed a growing global population while at the same time curbing deforestation, deleterious land use conversion and associated greenhouse gas emissions, The Food, Forest and Carbon Challenge proposes strategies for meeting food demands and protecting forests.
While the authors of the report stipulate that agriculture is a primary driver of deforestation, they also recognize the need to increase production. One of the primary messages is that yield gains are necessary to curb agricultural expansion, yet alone they will not be sufficient to protect forests. Forest protection efforts and policies are argued to be essential to curb demand for more land-intensive products, such as beef and vegetable oils. Biofuels are also a contentious subject in the report, spurring recommendations to only promote them where it is possible to use waste and biomass from otherwise unproductive lands.
So what does this publication put forth as the next frontier? More research is needed on the potential of “underutilized land, particularly land in countries likely to experience agricultural expansion.”