Half of global cropland expansion replaced natural vegetation and tree cover: Study

What is the news?

According to a study, Cropland area across the world has increased by 9% between 2003-2019.

About the study

The study was conducted between the period 2003-2019.

It defines cropland as land used for annual and perennial herbaceous crops for human consumption, forage (including hay) and biofuel.

Perennial woody crops, permanent pastures and shifting cultivation are excluded from the definition.

What are the key findings of the study?

Cropland area across the world: Cropland area has increased by 9% between 2003-2019.The cropland growth was primarily due to agricultural expansion in Africa and South America. However, 49% of the new cropland area replaced natural vegetation and tree covers indicating a conflict with the sustainability goal of protecting terrestrial ecosystems.

Note: Cropland expansion is a major factor in forest loss. It comes in conflict with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15) that aims to stop deforestation and degradation of natural habitats.

Global per capita cropland area: This has decreased by 10% during 2003-2019 due to population growth (global population increased by 21% from 2003-2019).But the per capita annual cropland net primary production (NPP) has increased by 3.5% as a result of intensified agricultural land use. 

What is the significance of this study?

The changes in total and per capita mapped cropland area demonstrate the variability of national responses to the need for increased food production to feed a growing population. 

Source:This post is based on the article ‘Half of global cropland expansion replaced natural vegetation and tree cover: Study’ published in Down To Earth on 3rd Jan 2021.

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