Impacts of agricultural expansion: what will we explore?

Tim Newbold, UCL

At UCL we’re interested in this question: do areas where crops are grown overlap with areas that are naturally high in biodiversity?  To investigate this, we are analysing maps of crop production and biodiversity that span the whole area of all three Sentinel countries: Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia.

We are particularly interested in whether there are greater overlaps with biodiversity for cash crops, grown for export, or staple crops, grown to meet local food demand.

Separately, we are trying to understand how much biodiversity is lost when natural habitat is converted to crop production. To find out, we use a global database that compares biodiversity in natural habitats with biodiversity in areas used by humans, such as for growing crops. We are beginning to investigate whether certain crops have more of an impact than others.