Biofuels, Food, Population Growth to Put Increasing Pressure on Forests
Photo of land cleared for cattle in the Amazon by Leonardo F. Freitas
A new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative starkly quantifies the amount of additional land which will have to be put under cultivation to satisfy the demands of a growing world population for food and biofuels.
Land equivalent to 12 Germanys will have to go under the plowUnless agricultural productivity of land rise sharply—the exact opposite of trends since the Green Revolution and the subsequent introduction of GM crops—an additional 515 million hectares (1.273 billion acres) will be have to be put under new cultivation by 2030. Over half of this land will likely come from tropical forests, which will only increase the effects of global warming on already stressed croplands.
The BBC quotes the original report:
...if the current plateau in productivity continues, the amount of additional agricultural land required just to meet the world's projected food demand in 2050 would be about three billion hectares, nearly all of which would be required in developing countriesLand rights for forest dwellers need to be strengthenThe report recommends that the best way to prevent a wholesale pillaging of tropical forests for food and biofuels by outsiders is to strengthen property rights for people who live in and around these forests, something which has been slow to enact so far.
It is clear that the dual crises of fuel and food are attracting significant new investments and great land speculation. Only by protecting the rights of the people who live in and around the world's most vulnerable forests can we prevent the devastation these forces will wreak on the poor.
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