Photo credit: Science Daily
Shrubs and trees in China’s western deserts are shown.
Credit: Xu Jianchu
New look at satellite data questions scale of China’s afforestation success
- May 3, 2017
- World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
- China has invested massive resources into halting and reversing tree cover loss. However, ‘planting trees is not the same as gaining forests.’ It is likely that much of China’s tree cover gains consist of low-height, sparse and/or scattered plantations, which are unlikely to provide the same benefits as natural forests, such as diverse habitats for wildlife, prevention of soil erosion, and timber resources.
Read the full article: Science Daily
PHOTO CREDIT: National Geographic
China’s ‘Great Green Wall’ Fights Expanding Desert
Throughout the past 40 years, the Earth has lost a third of its arable land to erosion and degradation. China’s efforts to fight the problem have seen mixed results.
China has been battling large-scale desertification since at least the 1950s, when the young People’s Republic went on a nation-building spree, razing farm and wild lands to build cities and create infrastructure to accommodate a growing population. Such human activity left much of the land unprotected against wind erosion and deposition from the surrounding deserts.
“[It’s like what the] American farmer did to cause the Dust Bowl in the 1930s,” says Xian Xue, a leading expert on aeolian desertification in China and professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In a big move to address the problem, in 1978, the Chinese government implemented the Three-North Shelterbelt Project, a national ecological engineering effort that called for the planting of millions of trees along the 2,800-mile border of northern China’s encroaching desert, while increasing the world’s forest by 10 percent. Also known as the “Great Green Wall,” the project’s end date isn’t until 2050; so far, more than 66 billion trees have been planted.
However, some say the Great Green Wall hasn’t been the perfect solution.
Read the full story: National Geographic
Photo credit: Climate Home
As subtropical drylands expand, trees and food crops will struggle (Pic: Ollivier Girard/Center fo… http://sumo.ly/z3De via @ClimateHomeDryland expansion to hit food crops as planet warms
Dryland expansion to hit food crops as planet warms
Studies warn climate change will bring faster warming to subtropical dry areas, making crops like wheat and potatoes unviable
In what may be good news only for cactus, termites and drought-resistant grasses, subtropical dry areas are going to expand over large parts of the Earth as the climate warms.
This will seriously reduce the amount of land that can be used to grow crops for human consumption and prevent many deeper-rooted shrubs and trees from growing at all.
This latest finding in Nature Communications overturns received wisdom that deep-rooted woody plants would survive better in subtropical dry areas because they would be able to extract moisture from far below ground.
Scientists discovered that these deep soils dried out and stayed dry for longer periods because the moisture from the rains evaporated or was used by shallow-rooted plants before it could percolate down to the subsoil.
Groups of scientists studied vast areas of land in North and South America, Asia, Southern Africa and the Western Mediterranean basin. They found that temperate drylands reduced in size by about one-third but only because they morphed into subtropical drylands as temperature rose. Absence of frost from temperate drylands enabled subtropical plants and insects to invade them.
Read the full article: Climate Change News
Photo credit: Foodtank
Food Insecurity a Pressing Issue Amidst Urban Growth in Africa
According to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), more people are relocating to African cities from rural areas than ever before. UN-Habitat reports that “the global share of African urban dwellers is projected to rise from 11.3 percent in 2010 to 20.2 percent by 2050.” A new study by Dr. Takemore Chagomaka entitled “Food and Nutrition Insecurity Mapping (FNIRM) in Urban and Periurban Areas in West African Cities” seeks to “understand and map the dynamics of household food and nutrition insecurity in urban, periurban and rural settings.” Chagomaka, lead author of the study, conducted the research in two growing sub-Saharan African cities.
While the study draws some broad conclusions across the two localities, such as finding that households that grow crops and keep livestock tend to be more food secure than those that do not, the study highlights far more distinctions. Future policy to effectively address food insecurity will have to take into account each locality’s unique aspects.
The study examined two sub-Saharan African cities and their surrounding areas: Tamale, Ghana, and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. For each locality, the area was transected into four sections and then divided into three zones. Using the city market as the center point, urban zones were defined as those within 10 km of the center; periurban zones were within 10 km to 40 km of the center; and rural zones between 40 km and 70 km from the center. Researchers surveyed a total of 240 households in each area through questionnaire and interviews, with questions focused on production, access, and consumption of crops and livestock, as well as food coping strategies. Additionally, researchers took anthropomorphic metrics of children under five years present in the household.
Read the full article: Food Tank
Dairy ‘excellent’ source of protein for children, new study deems
- April 26, 2017
- University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
- Researchers are using pigs as a model to study the best way of evaluating protein quality in foods eaten by children.
Read the full article: Science Daily
Photo credit: FAO
The 156th session of the FAO Council runs from 24-28 April 2017.
Famine in the spotlight at FAO Council
Graziano da Silva: 20 million people could starve to death in next six months
Urgent action is needed to save the lives of people facing famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, FAO Directory-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the opening of the UN agency’s Council.
“If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months,” the Director-General said in his opening address. “Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades.”
Council members will be briefed on the extent of the hunger crises, and the steps required to prevent catastrophe, during the week-long session.
Making funds go further
Council will also consider for approval FAO‘s Programme of Work and Budget 2018-2019. The budget prioritizes areas where FAO can deliver the greatest impact to Member countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agriculture production, water scarcity management, and building the resilience of poor family farmers.
Food and agriculture are central to the sustainable development agenda, and FAO’s work is projected to contribute to the achievement of 40 targets across 15 of the 17 goals.
Voluntary contributions vital now more than ever
Council will also discuss a new scale of assessed contributions, which are the annual payments made by Member countries to FAO. Under the proposal, most countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be required to pay less and other countries to pay more. The Director-General urged OECD countries to continue to contribute at the same level by making additional voluntary contributions.