Terra Environment Dictionary — F

Terra Environment Dictionary is a resource of words, terms and phrases related to environmentalism, as defined by society.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #

factory farm

As the name suggests, a system of running an agricultural farm (where animals are reared) like a factory (think manufacturing production lines), as opposed to a independent farm. Factory farms account for over two-thirds of livestock and meat production globally, with the figure rising up to 99 percent in the US, the world’s largest animal agriculture producer.
Used interchangeably with industrial farm, factory farms are designed to maximise production output and efficiency while minimising costs. This typically means treating animals, not as individual living beings, but as raw materials to be processed and packaged into consumer products.
see also: agribusiness

feedback loop

Colloquially known as a vicious cycle, it refers to climate, weather or environmental processes that amplify their effects, typically in accelerated (positive feedback) or decelerated (negative feedback) warming. One example of such phenomena is the melting of sea ice. In many predictive models of climate change, feedback loops are not taken into account, meaning that actual climate change will likely be more drastic than predicted.

fish farm

A system of rearing fish and other marine species in enclosures — mostly off-shore (e.g. mesh cages submerged in natural water bodies) but sometimes in inland facilities (e.g. manmade tanks or ponds) —  for food.
The fastest-growing food production sector, and as of 2016, produces more than 50 percent of seafood globally, surpassing wild fisheries. The artificial environments that the fish are kept in are usually overcrowded and unhygienic, causing injuries and diseases. The chemicals and waste from farms are also released into the surrounding open waters, causing contamination and nutrient pollution which deplete the oxygen in the water.
Contrary to what some might think, fish farms do not effectively combat overfishing (overexploitation of wild fish populations), as the fish are typically fed a diet of fishmeal (wild prey fish species) and fish oil, on top of regular doses of antibiotics.


A large area dominated by trees. Forests are estimated to cover 31 percent of the world’s land area, serving as the natural habitat of 80 percent of land-based species.
Forests serve as one of the world’s primary carbon sinks, absorbing one-third of the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels each year.

fossil fuels

1. Combustible organic material, such as oil, coal and natural gas, formed from the remains of organisms over millions of years.
2. A finite and non-renewable source, it is the world’s primary source of energy (81 percent), as well as greenhouse gas emissions (over 72 percent).


A gross misnomer, free-range animals usually do not roam and graze in natural, outdoor pastures. In legal terms, free-range means having access to the outside—which could be a tiny opening to a small, muddy enclosure—regardless of whether they do actually go outside. The only real benefit that free-range animals have over ‘confined’ ones are that they are not kept in cages or pens. However, the sheer population density that they’re packed in more or less negates this.
synonyms: free-roaming; cage-free

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #