Agricultural landscape between Ankara and Hattusha, Anatolia, Turkey (40°00’N – 33°35’E) © Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
Agriculture, as seen here in Turkey, is essential if we are to support billions of people on Earth. But it also destroys the habitats of wild plants, fungi and animals. Cultivating land takes space away from nature and biodiversity – even if we don’t use pesticides and fertilisers. Space is the biggest problem. The vast majority of agricultural land is used to grow fodder for livestock, to feed the massive demand for meat, especially beef. Eating less meat and fewer dairy products would leave more room for other species.
GOAL BY 2030: PRESERVE AND RESTORE ALL ECOSYSTEMS ON LAND AND IN FRESHWATER. ECOSYSTEMS MUST ALWAYS BE USED IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER.
Deforestation is a huge global problem. Despite the introduction of new forests in some areas, the rate of felling exceeds that of planting.
In Denmark, the biggest problem facing nature is lack of space. Most rural land is used to grow corn and trees – but on our terms, not nature’s. Natural forests, ones left to their own devices, are teeming with life. Rotting old trees are full of fungi and mosses, birds and small mammals make holes in them for nests, and there are plenty of insects to eat. Grazing by large animals in natural forests also ensures that there are glades where flowers, herbs and other species flourish, because there is more sun and air than in the denser parts of the woods.
Two-thirds of all species in Denmark stem from natural forests, but since almost all of our forests are plantations, where trees are grown in orderly rows and cut down before they grow old, many species are on the retreat. This is bad for biodiversity, even if some progress is being made elsewhere, e.g. many previously endangered bird species are recovering.
All loss of biodiversity must be halted by 2030. Immediate and substantial action across the world is needed to lift the threat of extinction to many species. Strong global measures are also needed to combat poaching and the illegal trade in protected species.