Farmlands are one of the most vital ecosystems to sustain humankind
Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture1 and roughly two billion people (27% of the world population) derive their livelihoods from it2.
Farmlands are essential to feed and clothe our growing populations and are home to a wide range of vital organisms. Farmlands protect watersheds from flooding and maintain genetic diversity for crop species. Grassland pasture and rangelands preserve open space for recreational and cultural value. Some of the most effective carbon sinks are grasslands, permanent pastures and agricultural land.
Issues facing farmland ecosystems
Climate change and diminished freshwater availability, coupled with pressures to produce more for less, are taking their toll. Unsustainable intensive farming practices and over-grazing leave farmlands vulnerable to disease, with poor quality soils and less resilience to drought or heavy rainfall, all leading to reduced crop yield.
Actions to overcome this – including more intensive farming, increased over-grazing, increased pesticide use, or expansion of farmland into other areas such as forests – further reduce wildlife, habitats and biodiversity.
Solutions to restore farmlands
Restoring agricultural ecosystems using nature-based solutions increases health, productivity, climate resilience, and biodiversity, while protecting the livelihoods of the two billion people who make their living from agriculture. Good farming practices, such as crop rotation and afforestation, reduce emissions and improve biodiversity.
Growing multiple crops reinvigorates soil and brings resiliency from diverse income streams, as do innovative practices such as carbon farming, banking and tourism. Integrated pest management – combining biological, mechanical, physical and natural controls with the responsible use of pesticides – protects crop yields and livelihoods as well as wildlife.
Sustainable water management improves resource efficiency and drought resilience and soil can be protected and reinvigorated using essential macro- and micro-biota that promote plant health and growth and reduce the need for additional agrochemicals.
HOW WE CAN ALL HELP
- Go to a farmers’ market and chose local, seasonal produce
- If you can buy organic, do
- Reducing the amount of meat we eat helps reduce carbon-producing intensive farming
- Buying better meat, such as organic or welfare-assured, supports animal welfare as well as being gentler on the land
- Buying food in-season means it is easier to grow and comes from closer to home
- Reduce food waste
- Choose ‘slow fashion’ - ethically and sustainably sourced, with an emphasis on buying less to reduce pesticide use, chemicals used for dyes, water use and waste
Ramboll's work supporting farmland ecosystems
Click below to read more about projects and news related to this ecosystem