Sustainable agriculture, fish apartments, drying peatlands: 3 stories you may have missed

© Tory Read

Editor's Note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

1. Farming could be absorber of carbon by 2050, says report

Major changes in food production could help slow climate breakdown, concludes a new report.

The Story: According to a recent report, sustainability improvements within the agricultural industry — a massive greenhouse gas contributor — could help the global food system to begin absorbing carbon by 2050. The report, co-authored by Conservation International’s Natural Climate Solutions Fellow Bronson Griscom, includes a comprehensive roadmap to reforming food production by reducing deforestation, restoring mangrove ecosystems, and decreasing food waste and meat consumption, reported Fiona Harvey for The Guardian. 

The Big Picture: “Restoring forests is the only thing on Earth that can reverse the emissions that drive global warming,” said Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan in response to the recent UN report that concluded the world’s food system is contributing approximately 30 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change. Making sustainable changes within the agricultural industry could also improve global food security, expand wildlife habitat areas and increase revenue for farmers. 

Read the full story here.

 2. This artificial island is a home for sea creatures displaced by climate change 

A lab-designed, floating habitat could provide a safe haven for fish species. 

The Story: A small fiberglass structure designed by a team of architects could help protect marine life threatened by sea-level rise, reported Evan Nicole Brown for Fast Company. Nicknamed “The Float Lab,” the structure takes up 0.002 acres (87 feet). As it drifts through the ocean, it provides an artificial habitat for marine life as small tidal pools form in its grooves, creating what the architects refer to as “fish apartments.”

The Big Picture: Sea-levels are rising at unprecedented rates, threatening to disrupt marine life and erode fish habitats along the planet’s coasts. Structures that prioritize climate resilience — such as the Float Lab — could help people protect fish that are threatened by irreversible impacts of climate breakdown, maintaining food security and livelihoods for coastal communities.

Read the full story here.

3. Climate change: widespread drying of European peatlands

One of the world’s best carbon absorbers may soon start releasing emissions. 

The Story: Europe's peatlands — wetlands topped with a layer of partially decayed vegetation known as peat — are drying up due to climate change. This could release vast amounts of carbon into the environment, according to a new study in GeoScience, reported Helen Briggs for BBC news. Under normal environmental conditions, peatlands act as carbon sinks, absorbing more CO2 than all other types of vegetation around the world combined. As ecosystems become more arid, peatlands could start emitting the carbon they had previously stored.

The Big Picture: Approximately 15 percent of peatlands around the world have been burned or drained, often to clear space for unsustainable palm oil plantations or harvest the peat for fuel. Peatland restoration and sustainable palm oil production could help protect these critical wetland ecosystems and their ability to store large quantities of carbon. 

Read the full story here.

Kiley Price is a staff writer for Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: An oil palm plantation in a peatland ecosystem, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (© Melissa Thomas/Conservation International)