Glossary of terms

Here you will find definitions of terms used in resources on the Foodsource website. You will also find these definitions on the right-hand side within chapters. If you have any suggestions for new glossary items, let us know here.

A (12) | B (4) | C (12) | D (1) | E (7) | F (6) | G (3) | H (1) | I (5) | L (3) | M (10) | N (3) | O (3) | P (5) | R (1) | S (9) | T (1) | U (1) | W (4) | Y (1) | Z (1)

Habitat fragmentation

Habitat fragmentation describes the breakup (fragmentation) in an organism's preferred environment (habitat), causing population fragmentation and ecosystem decay.


Intensification refers to a process by which farming systems (for crops or livestock) are reorganised – often through the application of new technologies, economies of scale, and the use of additional inputs, such as nutrients, chemicals, energy and water – in order to produce more of a desired output (e.g. meat) while using less land, human labour, or capital. The result is that the costs of production for a given amount of food are reduced, thereby increasing profits through larger profits per unit of food, or by expanding total consumption through lower prices, enabling more people to buy more. Often, environmental impacts per unit of product are also reduced, but may be counterbalanced by increases in total production. The impacts of intensification processes on animal welfare, biodiversity, and other issues is also a widely held concern.

Intensive agriculture

Often used synonymously with the terms industrial agriculture and conventional farming, IA is generally used to denote farming systems that use modern technologies and economies of scale to maximise yields relative to land use and production costs (e.g. costs of labour, technology, seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides). IA is associated with high use of chemical fertilisers, agrochemicals, and irrigation. This combination of agricultural technologies became common during the Green Revolution in the mid-20th century, and has long been criticized for its high social and environmental impacts.

Interstitial waters

Interstitial waters refers to water trapped in sediments or in pores (voids or spaces) in sedimentary rocks – rocks formed by the deposition and cementation of material, as opposed to rocks formed by volcanic processes.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. It is administered by the United Nations with participation and decision making from 195 member states. The assessments that it produces provide the basis for government at all levels to create climate related policies.

Iso calorific

Iso-calorific is a term that means to hold the amount of calories in a diet constant, while changing other variables. It is used in research as a way to make meals with different compositions in terms of foods and nutrients, equivalent and comparable in terms of the energy that they provide.

Land sharing

is the principle of integrating nature conservation approaches into agricultural production across a region. Its characteristics are that of low-yielding farmland with higher biodiversity, but with less land available for the sole purpose of nature conservation. Land sharing sits at one end of the two extremes of the land sparing-sharing continuum. It has in particular been criticised for leading to lower levels of biodiversity on a regional scale and for a tendency for generalist species to thrive at the expense of specialist or endemic species.

Land sparing

is the principle of segregating land for nature conservation from land for food (or agricultural) production within a region. It consists of high-yielding farmland with relatively lower biodiversity, with the remaining land being spared for nature conservation. Land sparing sits at one end of the two extremes of the land sparing-sharing continuum. It has in particular been criticised for its (supposed) connection to environmentally unsustainable intensive agriculture and for undermining the food security of smallholder farmers and rural economies.

Land use

the purpose for which an area of land is used by humans: e.g. cropland, urban settlements, managed forests. Wild land, by contrast, is that not used by humans.


Fats, proteins and carbohydrates (starch, fibre, sugar) that are needed for a wide range of bodily functions and processes.


Deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in the energy, macronutrients or micronutrients that a person obtains, either because their diet is lacking or because their body is not able to fully absorb the nutrients from the foods eaten, e.g. due to illness. Malnutrition is an umbrella term that includes overnutrition (an excess of food energy), undernutrition (a lack of food energy and macronutrients such as protein), and micronutrient deficiencies (insufficient micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A or iodine).


A mangrove is a salt tolerant tree or shrub that grows in tidal and coastal wetlands and swamps, typically in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They typically form mangrove forests and are globally important for biodiversity and carbon storage, and also for their role in coastal protection.

Market liberalisation

Market liberalisation means that there is a lessening of government restrictions and regulations to the market, such that the market is primarily controlled through supply and demand

Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet is an idealised dietary pattern that has commonalities with the diets traditional to many Mediterranean countries. It is a diet that is primarily based on vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, cereals, olive oil, and fish, with moderate consumption of dairy and low to moderate amounts of meat. Mediterranean type diets are considered to have health conferring benefits.


Microalgae are microscopic algae typically found in freshwater and marine ecosystems