Thursday, 28 September 2017

Agroecology in the Gobi Desert (online)

Agroecology in Extensive Rangeland Pastoralism in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia

Only 1% of the arable land in Mongolia is cultivated with crops. The agriculture sector remains heavily focused on nomadic animal husbandry with 75% of the land allocated to pasture. Dundgobi province is located in the middle part of the Gobi Desert and is a vast dryland steppe with sparsely grown but highly nutritious grass such as wild leek and saxaul. The local community is actively involved in projects for planting trees such as elm and seabuckthorn, bushes and vegetables. The community is a good example of surviving under challenging climate conditions. Their initiatives involve building relationships between herding livestock in a traditional way and planting trees to cope with sand movement and land degradation and putting efforts into spring water conservation.

The Land/water/energy nexus (report)

The Land-Water-Energy Nexus

This report contributes to the discussion of interconnections between scarce resources by highlighting the nexus between land, water and energy. It focuses on a dynamic, integrated, and disaggregated analysis of how land, water and energy interact in the biophysical and economic systems. The report provides projections for the biophysical and economic consequences of nexus bottlenecks until 2060. The analysis is based on coupling a gridded biophysical systems model with a multi-regional, multi-sectoral dynamic general equilibrium modelling assessment. Numerical insights are provided by investigating a carefully selected set of scenarios that are designed to illustrate the key bottlenecks.

Earth, A Tenant's Manual (book)

Earth: a Tenant's Manual

Frank H. T. Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell University, provides a sweeping, accessible, and deeply informed guide to the home we all share. Rhodes begins by setting the scene for our active planet and explaining how its location and composition determine how the Earth works and why it teems with life. He emphasizes the changes that are of concern to us today, from earthquakes to climate change and the clashes over the energy resources needed for the Earth’s exploding population. He concludes with an extended exploration of humanity’s prospects on a complex, protean, and ultimately finite world. Only new resources, new priorities, new policies and, most of all, new knowledge, can reverse the damage that humanity is doing to our home—and ourselves. A sustainable human future, Rhodes concludes in this eloquent, sobering, but ultimately optimistic book, will require a sense of responsible stewardship, for we are not owners of this planet; we are tenants.

New Scientist article on sustainable diets (#journal)

The real clean food: How to eat well for yourself and the planet

 It's possible to have a diet that's both healthy and eco-friendly, but would you really want to eat it? Forget the fads, the answer is more straightforward than you think.

Agrobiodiversity essential to sustainable food (book)

Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems

A new book which summarizes the most recent evidence on how to use agrobiodiversity to provide nutritious foods through harnessing natural processes. “With a host of case studies, facts and figures about this growing area of research, this is a must-read for anyone interested in how we can use all our biodiversity resources for more nutritious food while reducing damage to the planet.”
HE Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius

Dietary diversity, health, and agrodiversity (#journal)

Critical review of the emerging research evidence on agricultural biodiversity, diet diversity, and nutritional status in low- and middle-income countries

The declining diversity of agricultural production and food supplies worldwide may have important implications for global diets. The primary objective of this review is to assess the nature and magnitude of the associations of agricultural biodiversity with diet quality and anthropometric outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Agricultural biodiversity has a small but consistent association with more diverse household- and individual-level diets, although the magnitude of this association varies with the extent of existing diversification of farms. Greater on-farm crop species richness is also associated with small, positive increments in young child linear stature. Agricultural diversification may contribute to diversified diets through both subsistence- and income-generating pathways and may be an important strategy for improving diets and nutrition outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.

FAO forestry twitter feed (online)

FAO Forestry twitter feed

The Forestry Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization helps nations manage forests in a sustainable way. There's an impressive list of links to reports, videos, events and information on their twitter feed.

Soil solutions (online)

Soil Solutions
If you’re like most people, you take soil completely for granted. We know that too much carbon in the atmosphere is warming the planet and increasing the severity of extreme weather events. Yet how many of us know that too little carbon in the ground is causing desertification, hunger, and climate instability? But there is hope: using the power of photosynthesis, we can take excess carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the ground, where it contributes to soil and climate health. We can feed our soils the carbon they need by adopting regenerative agriculture. Rebuilding soil carbon will make us more resilient in the face of a changing climate, and will help solve our fresh water problems, while helping to ensure enough nutritious food for a growing population. Now that we know there’s a solution to so many of our pressing problems there’s no time to lose.

Assessing sustainability of permaculture farms (online)

The 'SMART' way of assessing the sustainability of English and Welsh farms


Immo and Alfr├ęd blogged during their field work and you can find out what they got up to!
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four 
Part Five

We assessed 21 different farming systems, mostly productive enterprises. The assessments entailed an in-depth interview with the farm manager and a farm walk. Farm performance was assessed holistically taking into account indicators related to ecologic, economic and social sustainability. Data analysis is still ongoing but from a first look we find that small-scale alternative (organic or permaculture) farms tend to score better within many dimensions of sustainability as opposed to conventional producers; farms committed to Permaculture principles tend to attain the highest scores. The entire project seems to us like a long-awaited pioneering start on putting figures to Permaculture's potential benefits and achievements using an integrated peer-reviewed assessment tool.


Agricology knowledge base and blog (online)

AGRICOLOGY


AGRICOLOGY IS A COLLABORATIVE VENTURE BETWEEN LEADING ORGANISATIONS WORKING TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE FARMING IN THE UK. IT PROVIDES UNRIVALLED ACCESS TO WORLD-CLASS INFORMATION RESOURCES AND CHAMPION GOOD FARMING PRACTICE BASED ON AGROECOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES. PRACTICAL, SUSTAINABLE FARMING REGARDLESS OF LABELS.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Holmgren discusses collapse vs self reliance (video)

David Holmgren talks collapse at the SLF Great Debate

 "To Collapse Or Not To Collapse: Pushing for economic ruin or building a great transition" was the topic for this unconventional 'debate' for the Sustainable Living Festival held at Federation Square in Melbourne February 2015. David Holmgren was the first of six speakers.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Principles for converting to agroecology (#journal)

Agroecology: Principles for the Conversion and Redesign of Farming Systems

New farming systems will not emerge from simply implementing a set of practices (rotations, composting, cover cropping, etc.) but rather from the application of already well defined agroecological principles. By breaking the monoculture nature of farming systems, agroecological diversification aims at mimicking ecological processes leading to optimal nutrient cycling and organic matter turnover, soil biological activation, closed energy flows, water and soil conservation and balanced pest-natural enemy populations. All these processes are key to maintaining the agroecosystem’s health, productivity and its self-sustaining capacity. By enhancing functional biodiversity, a major goal of the conversion process is achieved: strengthening the weak ecological functions in the agroecosystem, allowing farmers to gradually eliminate inputs altogether.

Sustainable diets transform the food system (book)

Sustainable Diets. How Ecological Nutrition Can Transform Consumption and the Food System

This book explores what is meant by sustainable diets and why this has to be the goal for the Anthropocene, the current era in which human activities are driving the mismatch of humans and the planet. Food production and consumption are key drivers of transitions already underway, yet policy makers hesitate to reshape public eating habits and tackle the unsustainability of the global food system. The authors propose a multi-criteria approach to sustainable diets, giving equal weight to nutrition and public health, the environment, socio-cultural issues, food quality, economics and governance. This six-pronged approach to sustainable diets brings order and rationality to what either is seen as too complex to handle or is addressed simplistically and ineffectually.

World Nutrition journal, free online (journal)

Relaunched journal: World Nutrition


World Nutrition is the quarterly journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association (WPHNA) but its articles reflect the opinions of its authors, not of the association. It aims to provide content of value to nutritionists, dieticians, health workers, agricultural specialists, social scientists, students, policy makers, and others interested in public health nutrition or community nutrition. It is global in scope, presenting content of general interest as well as content specific to low-income or high-income settings. The journal has not been published since early 2016, but is now relaunched.

Transition to agroecology (book)

Transition to Agro-Ecology: For a Food Secure World

Our global agricultural and food system is broken and needs to transition to one that is more sustainable and beneficial to the world’s population. This seems hard in the face of the linked challenges of climate change, natural resource depletion, and worldwide economic and social upheaval. At the same time, farmer-led social movements are growing, and there is increasing recognition that agroecology and food sovereignty are key solutions for both nutritious food security and climate change adaptation. This book takes you along in the transition to agroecology, which is already happening, worldwide!

A road map to a sustainable food future (book)

Sustainable Food Futures

Foodgovernance.com hve just pubished their new book, Sustainable Food Futures: Multidisciplinary Solutions. The book includes proposals for solutions to move toward more sustainable food futures.  The solutions, which are based on concrete cases, are organised around 4 themes:
  1. Recognizing place
  2. Enhancing participation
  3. Challenging markets
  4. Designing sustainable food futures
The solutions proposed in this book can be read as an atlas of possibilities. There are multiple roads we can, and must, travel to bring us towards our destination: just and sustainable food futures. And yet, instead of moving towards a brighter future, we continue with a status quo that is not good enough. To reach sustainable food futures, we require diligent and creative route planning.