BRZ: Brazil; RUS: Russian Federation; USA: United States of America; CAN: Canada; DRC: Democratic Republic of Congo; CHN: China; MAL: Malaysia; INDN: Indonesia; GAB: Gabon; IND: India; NA= not available.
increases in food production will most likely continue through the intensification of existing agricultural land, rather than through an expansion of cultivated area. On a global scale, the sustainability of food production is not an issue of resource limitation (land, water, fertilizers) but one of environmental consequences. Given the right price, there are sufficient land and productivity gaps that could be exploited to produce enough food to meet future demand. The real challenge, however, is to minimize the environmental damage associated with agricultural production.
Furthermore, the prevalence of malnutrition today is mainly a "distribution" problem; people either do not have access to good land to grow their own food or enough income to buy food. Current global production can easily provide 2800 calories per person (Wood and Ehui 2005). In addition, since nearly 35% of the world's grain production is used for animal feed, enormous advances in caloric supply are possible if meat consumption is reduced, due to the loss in efficiency associated with meat consumption versus grain.
A review of wood removal rates compared to existing growing stocks in forests suggests insuffi cient recovery time for renewal of forests, especially in Africa. If only commercial forests are taken into account, assuming that we need to set aside noncommercial forests to fulfill other ecosystem services, the situation is even more dire. However, the poor quality of data, as acknowledged by the FAO, suggests that this analysis is not conclusive.
The simple answer to the question, "Is there enough land to provide resources to a world of 10 billion people?" is yes, based on this simple review. Several additional considerations make such a simple answer, however, useless. First, such an answer does not consider environmental costs. Evaluating the sustainability of land resources is ultimately an analysis of trade-offs. Indeed, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) concluded that while food production service has been increasing, and the situation is mixed with respect to timber and fiber production, almost all other ecosystem services have been in decline. Therefore, we need to assess the competing demands from the land for food, timber, biofuels, and other ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Currently available data are insufficient to assess this trade-off partly because (a) land-cover transitions (i.e., forest to cropland, forest to pasture, cropland to urban, etc.) are not well characterized and (b) the status and trends in some of the other ecosystem services are poorly known.
Furthermore, to understand the sustainability of land resources, it is critical to understand the relationship between locations supplying and demanding land resources. If the demand for land resources is separated from the supply locations, there is little feedback from the environmental consequences of production to the demand for resources. Therefore, we need to consider the "land transformation chains" that connect demand in one region of the world to supply in another region of the world.
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