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Harnessing Biodiversity to Improve Vineyard Sustainability

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The burgeoning world population is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050 and the main challenge currently facing society is that of feeding the world's rapidly increasing population in a sustainable manner. Future methods for meeting the demand for food by a larger, wealthier global population must meet the needs of the environment as well as the global market. Ecosystem Services provision must improve and productivity levels should be maintained or increased wherever possible. It is preferable that any increase in production is accomplished without a corresponding increase in the area of land under agricultural production if we wish to 'save land for nature'. Most of the best quality land is already used for agriculture, so any further expansion would spill into marginal land that is already incapable of sustaining high yields, degrading the value of this land further. Biodiversity loss and reduced ecological resistance in engineered landscapes is unfortunately commonplace, with the detrimental environmental impacts of agricultural practices going largely unmeasured and having little influence on farmer or societal choices regarding production methods. The 'external costs' associated with chemical dependent intensive agriculture include claims of damage to soil fertility, water quality and human health, as well as often irreparable damage to biodiversity. The two main processes that result in biodiversity loss are reductions in the size of natural areas and changes in ecosystem conditions. Global climatic change is providing further challenges for agriculture as species distributions change and extinction rates increase.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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