Food Production And The Loss Of Biodiversity

Topics: Biodiversity, Agriculture, Ecosystem Pages: 5 (1545 words) Published: March 16, 2015
The variety and variability amongst environmental systems is the characteristic that enables sustainment in every day life. Commonly known as biological diversity, this distinctive feature encompasses the multitude of both plant and animal species that can be found in distinctive ecosystems across the globe. At the very least, diversity is accountable for the thorough development of all natural systems and warrants their existence. The inclination of biodiversity in our daily lives is what enables us to continue to prosper and feasibly grow and develop in our environment, with each life form and ecosystem having its own intrinsic value (Burns, 2001, pg. 3). Increasingly however, biodiversity has observed a steady decline, being detrimentally impacted by Industrial Expansion, and particularly, the various agricultural practices it entails. With an annual growth rate of 1.8%, three people are added to the Earth every second (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). This depicts the constant substantial population growth, which creates a deficit in the supply of nourishment annually. Accordingly, agricultural methods such as slash-and-burn, the aid of chemicals, and monocultures have followed as to increase the supply of food to meet the increasing demand. This has created the basis for three harmful characteristics of agricultural expansion: habitat alteration, pollution, and simplification, which all significantly work to deteriorate the biodiversity found across the world. Agricultural techniques of expansion have implicitly created an undesirable loss for society, slowly yet surely eliminating the one advantage the Earth has maintained for centuries- its diversity.

The alteration or complete destruction of natural habitats has become an increasingly necessary way of creating accessible areas for agricultural processes. In order to produce ample space for cultivation methods, localized ecosystems are destroyed, alongside all the functions of their diverse inhabitants. This is done through a common agricultural technique known as ‘slash-and-burn.’ This method involves the clearing of forested areas through the cutting and burning of trees and all surrounding plant life. Habitat alteration such as this is the most prominent factor in species risk of extinction, whereas clearance for cropland or pastures has reduced the extent of natural habitats by approximately 50% (Green et al., 2005). The fragmentation of a natural system in this way is not only detrimental to the particular area encompassing the ecosystem, but to the landscape as whole. Each particular habitat includes the required conditions and means for survival of certain species, and by taking away their bionetworks we are theoretically extracting their survival methods. Slash-and-burn is an ineffective and unsustainable method due to the fact it readily influences deforestation as well. About 80% of the world’s documented species can be found in tropical rainforests (WWF, 2013). This being said, the decline of this habitat is potentially harmful to all 80% of the world’s species. A prominent example of this is the Javan Tiger, which became extinct in 1979 (The Daily Green, 2012). Native to the Indonesian island of Java, the tigers were considered to be in abundance in the 1800’s, but became quickly eradicated as the island’s development progressed, and by the 1950’s there were only twenty tigers of this kind. In attempting to expand the island’s environment for agricultural purposes, techniques such as slash-and-burn were used throughout the vast rainforests, eliminating the habitat of this species. Overall, the alteration and obliteration of natural habitats may come as an indirect intention of agricultural means, but it is an unresolved external cost, which not only decreases the biodiversity around us, but also permanently prohibits growth in the inflicted geographic areas.

In attempting to expand our means of agricultural abundance, externalities such as the...
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