More than 90% of Earth's agricultural land will be degraded by 2050, according to the recent article ‘Let’s #StopSoilErosion to ensure a food secure future' published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). A degraded soil is infertile and can seriously reduce its agricultural performance. Recovering the fertility of degraded land is therefore essential for a region to move towards greater food sovereignty.
A new Horizon 2020 project, where CREAF takes part actively, will provide improved tools to European policymakers for predicting the result of future EU agriculture policies, taking account of farmers’ needs and effectively monitor policy impacts on natural, social and cultural assets in rural areas. It is BESTMAP!
A work by CSIC and CREAF scientists highlights that wild plants are more fertile and more resistant to pests than traditional crop varieties because their roots release substances that help them to capture more nutrients and fight pathogenic bacteria and fungi in the soil. If these natural properties were transferred to conventional cultivated varieties, agricultural yield could be improved and the ecological impacts of pesticides and industrial fertilizers reduced.
On 29-30 November 2018, the National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry (INRGREF) and the Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Centre (CREAF) co-organised the FASTER Kick-off meeting gathering for the first time representatives of its consortium partners. This event allowed the participants to familiarise with the planned work for the next three years of the project’s duration, and to agree on the imminent actions for the coming months.
The production of essential crops such as wheat, maize, rice, and soybean will be substantially reduced. Effective measures for climate change adaptation will be necessary, as well as improvements in crop genetics in order to reduce the impacts of climate change.
This finding is described in an article including CREAF researchers and coauthors Aitor Ameztegui and Lluís Brotons. The study addresses how the superior limit of forest cover in the Pyrenees has changed over 50 years. According to the study, the tree line has advanced upward an average of 40 meters, one of the main causes of this being decreasing pressures from livestock. Contrary to common thinking to date, climate change may play a much lesser role than previously thought.
This phrase is often repeated among biologists, but it is time for non-biologists to recognize the truth of this statement. In the opening session of this year's course at the Institute of Catalan Studies, Jordi Casanova explained that in the light of modern knowledge, we humans are animals, considering not only in our biology (an obvious fact) but also our behavior. Many studies, mostly on apes, have shown the existence of feelings such as jealousy, envy, a sense of for injustice, rebellion; to these I would add empathy, defense of hierarchy, and a wish power.
CREAF has participated in an international study which has estimated the total biomass production of all planetary ecosystems. These data can be used to improve accounting of the global supply of natural resources and plan strategies for boosting the sequestration of atmospheric carbon.