Title of symposium:
Impacts of Tropical Landscape Change on Human Diet and Local Food Systems

Principal organizer:
Bronwen Powell
Pennsylvania State University

Laura Vang Rasmussen
University of British Columbia, Canada

Amy Ickowitz
Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia

Symposium Summary
Tropical landscapes are changing rapidly, and land use policy makers are faced with competing demands and limited evidence on which to base decisions. Many conservationists argue that agricultural intensification will be the best way to conserve biodiversity while providing sufficient food (Phalan et al. 2011). In many places “agricultural intensification” has meant increasingly large scale agriculture and a focus on increasing yields of staple crops (Moseley et al. 2015). Agricultural and land use policies that focus on intensification and increasing yields of staple crops, without attention to nutritionally important foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean animal foods, will do little to improve the global nutrition situation. This session will highlight the ways that landscape change impacts the availability and consumption of healthy foods. Emerging evidence suggests that in some settings a large portion of nutritionally important foods come from the wild and that diverse agricultural landscapes that include trees and forests are better able to provide a healthy and diverse diet for local people. The production of cheap staple foods has led to rapid change in agricultural landscapes: continuing this trajectory will not likely have a positive impact on either human nutrition or agricultural sustainability. This symposium will yield insights of interest to policymakers and researchers seeking multi-functional landscape management in ways that support production of diverse and affordable foods, especially nutritionally important foods.

List of speakers and presentation titles: