News Round-Up

Biodiversity: why foods grown in warm climates could be doing the most damage to wildlife


Nearly half of the food eaten in the UK is grown abroad. Take your morning tea or coffee. These are just two of the many crops grown in tropical and sub-tropical climates that depend on animal pollination and countless other services provided by wildlife before they can reach our kitchen tables. But how often do we consider biodiversity when enjoying them?

You’ll probably be used to hearing that animal populations have declined by more than two-thirds since 1970 worldwide, and that around one million species are at risk of extinction. Many of these species are threatened by farmland expanding into their habitats, and while there’s a growing appetite to reform our broken relationship with nature, it’s important to recognise that threats to biodiversity are not equally distributed.

In a recent study, we compared data for more than 40,000 species across 91 countries to understand how they’re likely to be affected by habitat loss. We also investigated how more than 20,000 species are likely to cope with rising temperatures. We found that plants and animals in tropical and Mediterranean environments are at the greatest risk of suffering catastrophic declines from losing their habitats and from climate change. MORE

Header image: Wildlife in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia is particularly vulnerable to expanding farms. Credit: Tim Newbold, Author provided.