Global Food Habits Driving Animal Habitat Loss

It has been talked about for some years, but with time running out to stop ecological breakdown, we could be headed for a disaster beyond action. But with the foresight to mitigate the risks, will we act?

Academics from the University of Leeds and the University of Oxford released a damning report highlighting a direct link between human consumption of food products and rapid habitat loss. Industrial logging, most of it illegal, is but one of the many causes behind ecological disaster that could spell climatic calamity in the years to come.

The report, which was published in Nature detailed how 75-90% of land animals stand to lose some of their natural habitats.

In the report, authors said: “By 2050, 1,280 species were projected to lose at least 25% of their remaining habitat area and could be at increased risk of global extinction.”

Converting unhealthy lifestyles is a place to start. Limiting meat consumption to just once or twice per week can help alleviate some of the risks global ecological damage poses. This includes moving from a largely poultry and red meat-based diet to a pescatarian and vegetarian/vegan-based lifestyle. Moving to any diet still requires vigilance about what you eat as some products, such as almonds and avocados, can incur a negative environmental impact over others and may contribute to wasteful deforestation.

The authors conclude: “Our projections suggest that, under business-as-usual, agricultural expansion will drive widespread and severe biodiversity declines, but that these could be avoided with concerted, proactive efforts to address food consumption and production as ultimate drivers of biodiversity loss.”

There are several programs and apps available to aid personal behaviours and a shift away from detrimental pathways including the Global Footprint Network and WWF’s footprint calculator.

Photograph: CIFOR