Food and Biodiversity

From ants to elephants, moss to giant palms, and deserts to rainforests, our world is rich in genetic, species and ecosystem variety. In fact, over 10 million different species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms inhabit Earth. This biological diversity is critical to our survival. It provides a wide variety of nutrients in people’s diets, resilience to unexpected crop failings, food and income for those who might otherwise go without, ingredients for medications, clean water, flood control, fertile soils, pollination and much more.

Food and biodiversity are intertwined and responsive to changes within the other. In recent decades, intensive food production has taken priority over biodiverse landscapes, as vibrant ecosystems have been replaced with single species agricultural practices that concentrate on a small fraction of available foods and remove species considered weeds or pests. Estimates suggest that only 12 plant crops and 14 animal species make up 98% of the world’s food, and we have already lost many of their wild relatives.

CIFOR’s research explores these complex relationships to raise awareness of the important role of biodiversity in food security, and so contribute to global efforts to achieve a biodiverse and food-secure future.