Nature and food security

Food security is one of the major issues facing developing countries today.

Ecosystems such as wetlands, forests and river basins play a critical role in food production and security. They support the availability, access to and use of foods, both farmed and wild.

  • Around 7,000 species of plants and several thousand species of animals have been used for human food since farming began.

  • Bees and other insects provide a free pollination service valued at over US$ 200 billion per year.

  • There are 870 million undernourished people in the world.

Within these ecosystems, wild sources of food including vegetables, fruits, nuts and bushmeat are important to hundreds of millions of people. They are critical, especially during times of famine, insecurity, or conflict when regular food supplies are disrupted.

Bushmeat in the Congo Basin alone feeds nearly 100 million people – both urban and rural dwellers – and is important in many other forested regions of the world.

Wild foods also help provide a balanced and varied diet, contributing to improved human health. Biodiversity supports agricultural production through ‘services’ such as water purification, soil formation, nutrient cycling, pest control and pollination.


    Tacaná River Basin

    Buying water security in Guatemala

    In response to deforestation and watershed erosion around the Tacaná volcano on the Mexican-Guatemalan border, IUCN has launched the Living Water Partnership. The plan sees communities reinvest a portion of revenues from water-dependent economic productivity back into a conservation fund. …  

    05 Nov 2012 | Article

    Iskan Khan

    Sustainability in action in Pakistan

    QilaIskan Khan, a small village in Balochistan, Pakistan, has suffered from acute water shortages, particularly during the drought of 1996-2003. …  

    14 May 2012 | News story

    Floating food market in Thailand

    Food Security: making the ecosystem connections

    Worldwide, 870 million people go hungry every day. With the world population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050, global agricultural output must expand by an estimated 60% to meet global food needs. …  

    16 May 2013 | News story

    The new approach could increase food security and minimize the negative impacts of fishing on the environment.

    A balanced kettle of fish – IUCN suggests a novel approach to fishing

    An IUCN study published in the journal Science suggests major rethinking of fisheries management that could increase food security and minimize the negative impacts of fishing on the environment. …   | French | Spanish

    01 Mar 2012 | International news release