Issues Magazine

Issues Magazine 93

An overview of what's in this edition of Issues.
They may lack the charisma of megafauna, but plants are the objects of stronger connections with people. Can they cope with climate change?
Can we have our biodiversity and eat it too? International and Australian specialists discussed this pivotal question at the 2010 annual conference of the Crawford Fund, one of the very few events during the International Year of Biodiversity focusing on biodiversity conservation and world food security.
Healthy diets, like healthy ecosystems and economies, depend on diversity. Despite calls for more diversity in food and underlying crop systems, the world has witnessed research and development focusing almost exclusively on a handful of crops. Much more needs to be done to turn rhetoric into reality.
Crop improvement, environmental sustainability and higher farm incomes all depend on agricultural biodiversity – as does simply consuming a healthy, balanced diet.
Over the next 40 years there will be marked increases in agricultural inputs, and an additional one billion hectares of wild land will be appropriated for crops and pastures.
Bringing superior varieties of fruit trees out of the forest and domesticating them to be grown on farms and in gardens is increasing biodiversity and generating income for farmers in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Australia.
Managing agricultural development while conserving biodiversity is a challenge for practitioners of development and conservation.
Irrigation projects upstream have left some wetlands high and dry while others are flooded, with consequences for the waterbirds that depend on them.
A surge of mammal extinctions is underway in the Top End, according to an alarming new report.
Livestock gene banks are needed to ensure the world’s future food supply.
Better investment in and coordination of our plant genetic resources centres can benefit both global food security and rural Australia.
The international scientific community has called on the Russian President to halt the destruction of Pavlovsk Station – the Russian plant collection critical to the world.
The diverse fish fauna of the Mekong provides food, employment and income for millions of people, but its sustainability is threatened by barriers that block fish migration. Fishways on low-level weirs can help to maintain the resource and improve the yield of fisheries.
An understanding of all levels of biodiversity is needed to address poverty and hunger in developing countries, including that of people who rely on fishing or fish farming to live.
The World Heritage Committee in Cambodia will consider listing the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger" in 2014 if steps aren't taken to address key threats from industrialisation.