Viticulture is a valuable sector worldwide with an extraordinary socio-economic impact in Spain. Numerous pests and diseases threaten vineyards, and their management primarily relies on the use of conventional agrochemicals. The current paradigm of sustainability pursues the implementation of ecologically sound strategies in vineyard ecosystems. The use of cover crops is arising as an alternative with numerous benefits, including favoring above-belowground biodiversity and the presence of beneficial soil organisms such as the entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs).
Rising demand for renewable resources has increased silage maize (Zea mays L.)production characterized by intensive soil management, high fertilizer and pesticide inputs as well as simplified crop rotations. Advantages of renewable biomass production may thus be cancelled out by adverse environmental effects. Perennial crops, like cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum L.), are said to benefit arthropods. Substituting silage maize could hence increase biodiversity and foster ecosystem services.
Elsevier, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Volume 34, February 2019
The emerging insects-as-food industry is increasingly promoted as a sustainable alternative to other animal protein production systems. However, the exact nature of its environmental benefits are uncertain because of the overwhelming lack of knowledge concerning almost every aspect of production: from suitable species, their housing and feed requirements, and potential for accidental release.
It is no secret to anyone living in Beirut or a similar modern city in a semi-arid tropical country in the summer that their home has become a concrete forest and an urban heat island. Old wood or stone houses and their gardens have been replaced by concrete towers and parking lots, in the name of development. The result is searing summer nights, a drastic loss of insect and avian biodiversity, and a large increase in energy usage for interior climate control. These problems are experienced in rapidly developing urban centers worldwide.
Tenebrio molitor in the form of mealworm (left) and beetle (right). Photos by author.
Scientists in the Netherlands are cultivating edible insects to address concerns of international food security. Committed to the One World, One Health (OWOH) movement, their research aims to create a safe and effective global solution to the conjoined problems of climate change and an increasing worldwide demand for protein. Their preliminary work is promising, as it suggests that when compared to other sources of meat, insects can be an efficient, safe, and low-impact source of nutrients. Additionally, in many sites with endemic malnutrition, people find insects tasty.
Wood residues from forest harvesting or disturbance wood from wildfire and insect outbreaks may be viewed as biomass "feedstocks" for bioenergy production, to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Biomass removals of woody debris may have potential impacts on forest biodiversity and ecosystem function. Forest-floor small mammals, such as the southern red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi) that typically disappear after clearcut harvesting, may serve as ecological indicators of significant change in forest structure and function.