Philip McGowan, Newcastle University; Friederike Bolam, Newcastle University, and Louise Mair, Newcastle University
“Transformative change” is needed to prevent over a million species going extinct, according to a new report on the world’s biodiversity. Based on information gathered over three years from land, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and drawing heavily from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the report from the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warns that Earth’s life-support systems may collapse if humanity doesn’t change the way it values and uses nature.
But what does this mean for everyday life? “Biodiversity” – which describes the variety and abundance of species living on Earth – is a term which doesn’t travel far outside debate between scientists and policymakers. The consequences of the biodiversity crisis can seem abstract and difficult for many people to understand, particularly the implications for their own lives. Continue reading
Fishermen unloading buckets of fish from their boats in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Photo: Asian Development Bank/Flickr)
Indonesia, an archipelago in Southeast Asia, is situated strategically between the Indian and Pacific Ocean and made up of more than 17,000 islands. Fisheries become one of the Indonesians’ main occupations. The country’s local media, Tirto, reported that Indonesia was the second largest producer of the world’s marine fisheries after China in 2014. Last report from FAO stated that Indonesia is included as one of the world’s biggest shrimp export suppliers – along with China, Vietnam, India and Ecuador.
However, recent research has found a lack of sustainable implementation in the Indonesian fisheries sector. The question of sustainable fishing in Indonesia and other parts of the world includes challenges that are economic, political, technical and cultural.
Indonesian fisheries’ products are desired by both the local and international market. Ensuring the steady supply of the demand therefore becomes the major focus. It is known that most Indonesian fishermen use small fishing boats with relatively low-level technology for their daily, small-scale fisheries operation. Most of them operate near the coastline which leads to overfishing and the decrease of fish stocks in coastal areas.
This becomes a problem for the local fishers. Although most of them admit that overfishing would impact fish stocks and put sustainable livelihoods at risk, economic pressure is primarily why this practice continues. As international concern regarding the source of fishery products is on the rise, the challenge for the Indonesian government is to ensure that their seafood products are sustainable, and come from responsible fishing practices in order to be accepted by international standards. Continue reading
Dr Diogo Souza Monteiro, Senior Lecturer in Agribusiness Management, School of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Pulses are grain legumes that serve as the basis of healthy meals throughout the world. Historically legumes and pulses were an important source of proteins for both food and animal feed. In India, the Middle East and Mediterranean countries they are still an important source of protein and key ingredients for traditional dishes. However, in the UK the consumption of these products has been in steady decline in the past two decades. Yet peas, beans and many other legumes can be successfully produced in the UK for both animal feed and, more importantly, as food.
I have worked with the pulses industry in the UK on a project investigating alternative sources of protein for a growing global population. With colleagues I wrote a report for the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) on how to develop British pulses for food consumer markets. The report is divided into three parts:
- health benefits and claims on pulse products
- evidence for environmental benefits of introducing pulses in crop rotations
- market opportunities for pulse based products in the British market
Legumes are one of the most sustainable sources of protein. They have an outstanding nutritional value and therefore are increasingly recommended as part of a heathy diet. While in wealthier countries, such as the UK, normally the population has sufficient protein intake. There are, however, some groups, namely the elderly, that are not consuming their recommended daily intake. This was reported in a recent review paper published in the journal Nutrients. Legumes increase satiety, and therefore are being used in weight management programs. Also they are important sources of fibre and can be used to manage diabetes. Continue reading
Dr Luca Panzone, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University
There is increasing policy attention on the choices we make as consumers, particularly the impact these choices make on the environment. Everyday choices such as what we buy in supermarkets can have a significant impact on the planet, as they determine what we cook, eat or waste.
The plastic bag charge in the UK, for example, resulted in a massive drop in plastic bag use at retailers, significantly reducing plastic waste. For food shopping, if we could understand what drives our choices better, we could then advise retailers on how to design the shopping experience to better facilitate the task of consumers who value protection of the environment.
PhD student Jasmine Black was supported by NIReS to attend the Summer of Soil Living Soil Forum in Sweden, July 2013. In this post she keeps us up to date with her experience, the effectiveness of the forum and what she took from it.
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