CIE Spotlight: The Effects of Food Waste on Wildlife and Humans

Authors: Thomas M. Newsome and Lily M. van Eeden

Source: Sustainability

Brief summary of the paper: A reduction in the loss and waste of human food is a global issue for addressing poverty and hunger in poorer nations, and for reducing the environmental footprint of the agriculture sector. An emerging issue, however, is that food wasted by humans is often accessible to wildlife, affecting wildlife ecology and behaviour, as well as ecological processes and community dynamics.

Here we highlight the extent of such impacts, drawing on examples from mammalian predators and other taxonomic groups. We then develop two conceptual models. The first shows how wildlife access to food waste can exacerbate human-wildlife conflicts. The second highlights that when food waste is removed, the effects on wildlife and ecosystem processes should be monitored.

The conceptual models are important when considering that large quantities of food waste are intentionally and unintentionally provided to wildlife around the world. We conclude there is an urgent need to change the way people currently manage the food we produce.