Problems & Impacts | WWF
 
	© Brent Stirton / Getty images / WWF

Problems & Impacts

Commodity production often comes at a cost to the evironment. Deforestation, overfishing, biodiversity loss, climate change are all common problems from careless, irresponsible or wasteful production.

The good news is that we can do things better.

Find out more about some of the problems and impacts on this page or go straight to our solutions.
 

 

Excessive freshwater consumption

Irrigation equipment pumps water over a corn field.   
	© Istockphoto.com / WWF-Canada
Irrigation equipment pumps water over a corn field.
© Istockphoto.com / WWF-Canada
About 69% of the planet´s fresh water is used by the agricultural sector. In addition to public health risks from not having access to safe water, there are many other problems such as higher energy prices and political instability.

Daily Living
how you can help

  1. Buy sustainable goods such as certified seafood, timber and products that contain certified palm oil, or where these are not available, ask your retailer or supplier to stock them.
  2. Support WWF by donating, becoming a member or joining one of our many volunteer groups around the world.
  3. Check out our Live Green guide.

Clearing forests

 
	© WWF / John E. NEWBY
Forest being burnt to create new agricultural land. Madagascar.
© WWF / John E. NEWBY
Pasture and cropland account for 50% of the Earth’s habitable land. Cutting down forests and clearing land for growing food, biofuels and/or cattle grazing destroys wildlife’s natural homes in fragile places such as the Heart of Borneo and the Greater Mekong region.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions intensifying climate change

 
	© WWF / Tantyo Bangun
Newly planted oil plam trees in smoke from forest fires, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© WWF / Tantyo Bangun
Farming practices are significantly building up greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the livestock sector alone is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas production. Additionally, clearing land for agricultural production sends ever higher amounts of such gases into the atmosphere too.

Overfishing

 
	© WWF
Overfishing
© WWF
More than 85% of the world's fisheries are fully exploited or overfished. Fishing of commercially important fish stocks such as tuna or white fish damages marine environments, undermines legal fisheries, threatens livelihoods and erodes food security around the world. In the EU alone, yearly illegal fisheries imports amount to approximately 500,000 tonnes, for a value of 1.1 billion euros.

Unsustainable aquaculture

Aquaculture can threaten wild species and coastal habitats. Forty five percent of the shrimp we consume is produced by aquaculture, and more and more space is taken by this industry to the detriment of important natural ecosystems such as mangroves.

Increasing land area for livestock

Grazing animals, like grey cattle, have been restored on Tataru Island. Without them the floodplain ... 
	© WWF DCP Ukraine
Grazing animals, like grey cattle, have been restored on Tataru Island. Without them the floodplain forest ran wild due to lack of grazing.
© WWF DCP Ukraine
Farm animals take up 70% of all agricultural land, and over 40% of the world’s grain harvest is fed to livestock. Farming animals for meat and dairy requires huge inputs of land and water for growing animal feed.

Pollution

 
	© WWF / Michel Gunther
New chemicals regulations in the EU will lead to safer products around the world.
© WWF / Michel Gunther
To boost outputs and reduce losses, farmers turn to intensive pesticide and fertiliser use. Such practices can poison fresh water, marine ecosystems, the air and the soil, where chemicals can accumulate and persist for generations.

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