Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems is delighted to announce the launch of a new section “Sustainable Intensification and Ecosystem Services” led by Professor Les Firbank.
Prof. Firbank is the Chair in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Leeds and has previously lead the Sustainable Food Production Theme of the new N8 Agri-Food Resilience Programme. We asked Prof. Firbank what drives him for advancing research in the field of Sustainable Intensification & Ecosystem Services:
“A huge motivation has always been my own farming background, and love of the wildlife in and around farms. Much of my work has been to look at how farming and biodiversity interact, to help develop better policies and practices to support biodiversity on British farmland. This approach was always consistent with what is now called sustainable intensification. The idea that biodiversity was important to support a range of benefits to society really took off with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and my large-scale approach to agro-ecological research always lent itself to addressing ecosystem services. I am currently focussed on how to support choices about how to manage land, and how those choices are shaped by the context of location, opportunity and needs”
The “Sustainable Intensification & Ecosystem Services” section will publish interdisciplinary research on the costs, benefits and risks for developing sustainable food systems, their reliance on natural capital and ecosystem services, and the interventions needed to put agriculture on a more sustainable path. This section has an outstanding Editorial Board of experts and is already hosting a Research Topic on “Smarter Farming: New Approaches for Improved Monitoring, Measurement and Management of Agricultural Production and Farming Systems”. This special collection is being edited by Dr. Matt Bell, Dr. Yorgos Tzimiropoulos and Prof. Lex Comber.
Prof. Firbank points out that “There is no single, simple answer about how to manage land sustainability; it all comes down to well informed decisions. Yet there are many economic and social pressures to make those decisions quickly. This section provides a vital opportunity for presenting debate and evidence to support those choices. I see it as most important that this debate is in the context of food systems, as food production, distribution and consumption need to be considered together to develop truly sustainable farming systems”.
Prof. Firbank also adds that: “The idea is that the Sustainable Intensification & Ecosystem Services section will become the go-to place for lively, well informed, impactful debate, which will attract many people to take part”. Open Access is critical to advance this debate and as Prof. Firbank emphasizes: “This area is truly international, and of value to many stakeholders other than academics. Open Access ensures that information is available to all those who need it, as soon as possible”.