The growing population of the planet requires an increase in food volumes. To get it, it is necessary to expand the area of agricultural land. The scholars estimate that by 2050 the area of farmland will grow by an average of 3.4 million square kilometers. This process will not go unnoticed for ecosystems. Many species of flora and fauna will be destroyed. The researchers provided sad predictions.
For example, the total area of new land under development intended for the cultivation of various crops in order to feed the inhabitants of the Earth will, on average, be the area of a state such as India.
It will lead to the displacement of 17 thousand species of vertebrates from their habitats. According to the environmental scientist David Williams of the University of Leeds in England, there are options to feed humanity, and at the same time not strain the environment too much. All changes depend on how, where and what products are supposed to be grown. Williams and his colleagues identified notional areas of the planet that are most likely to be cleared for arable land.
After that, the ecologists made a calculation of food products, which, according to forecasts, are necessary to maintain the projected population growth in 152 countries of the world. They mapped the findings where it is believed that crops could be grown based on past land-use changes.
As a result, it turned out that by 2050, the 13 million square kilometers of already available arable land should be increased by at least 26%. These territories can be concentrated in the countries of Africa in the southern part of the Sahara, in South and Southeast Asia.
Then these estimates were combined with habitats of almost 20 thousand species of animals and birds. And while almost these species will lose their habitat, 1,280 species will lose a total of 25% of their population, and 96 species will lose almost 75%.
Thinking about changing the global food system can close these biodiversity losses almost entirely. If we apply methods such as switching to plant-based diets, reducing food waste losses, increasing food imports to countries where there is a lack of food and the expansion of farmland can lead to the disappearance of various types of flora and fauna, then there will be no increase in arable land, but their reduction and only 33 species will lose more than a quarter of their natural range.