Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Land-sparing vs. land-sharing

29 April 2019

This podcast, “Shrinking agriculture's footprint”, is part of the Breakthrough Dialogues series from California-based environmental research centre The Breakthrough Institute. The episode explores which farming practices are most sustainable and discusses land sharing versus land sparing.

Image: Charles Knowles, Eastern Washington wheat harvest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 April 2019

This paper reviews studies where changes in both productivity and species richness have been tracked at the same location, following changes in the intensity of land use. On average, intensifying land use leads to a 20% gain in output and a 9% decrease in species richness, but there is considerable variation between different contexts.

Image: Neil Palmer CIAT, Amazon9, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 March 2019

In this research on the Brazilian Amazon, FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen of UCLouvain finds that forest conservation and agricultural growth are not mutually exclusive, and sheds new light on the land sparing/sharing debate. The authors argue that enforcement of Brazil's forest laws is key to encouraging the efficient use of land and the sustainable development of the agricultural sector.

4 March 2019

This book discusses resilience in agriculture, using economic, ecological and sociological perspectives. Topics covered include biodiversity, ecosystem services, land sparing versus land sharing, and sustainable intensification.

Image: Pxhere, Grass farm animal, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2018

Relatively intensive, high-yield farming systems often have lower environmental impacts per unit of product, according to a new paper. The paper used a new framework to measure both land use and major environmental externalities (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and nitrogen, phosphorus and soil losses) for several different farming systems.

Image: Leon Brooks, Pina plantation, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
4 September 2018

A recent paper uses data from three countries (Ghana, Mexico and Poland) to determine whether more carbon can be kept in above-ground stocks by land sparing (increasing farms yields to minimise the conversion of natural habitats to farmland) or land sharing (increasing carbon stocks on farms, at the cost of converting more natural habitat to farmland because of lower yields). Land sparing maintained the highest above-ground carbon stocks in all cases studied.

Image: vbranyik, Corn cornfield fall, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
11 June 2018

FCRN member Ben Phalan of the Universidade Federal da Bahia has written a paper discussing the strengths and limitations of the land sparing-sharing framework, which aims to allocate land use and production intensity so as to maximise the value of land for wildlife while still producing enough food for people. He notes that most studies show that wildlife would be favoured by producing food intensely on as little land as possible, and addresses some common criticisms of the model.

Image: Jackie Proven, Leaping deer in wheat field near Hawklaw, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
30 April 2018

Intensifying agricultural production can make farmland less valuable for wildlife, says a new paper, but optimising land use (by intensifying agriculture in areas where it will cause the least biodiversity loss) can reduce the projected biodiversity loss by up to 88%. The winners and losers of this strategy depend on whether land use is optimised globally or nationally.

Image: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
13 February 2018

This paper by researchers from the USA, UK and Mexico examines the biodiversity conservation and carbon storage implications of a number of land-use scenarios related to cattle ranching in Yucatán, Mexico.

Photo: Simone Fenger, Cassava production in Agroforestry system, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
12 June 2017

In this article a group of American researchers provide commentary on how sustainable applications of integrated agricultural systems (IAS) can be designed to enhance all ecosystem services, without compromising the land’s resilience. The authors describe IAS as an interactive and synergistic resource transfer between multiple agricultural enterprises over space and/or time. 

Photo: djfrantic, Bees on our Boysenberries, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
12 April 2017

This paper in Biological Conservation argues that the role of pesticides in driving biodiversity loss deserves renewed emphasis, quantification and amelioration. The authors present their views on how conservationists should support integrated approaches, for sustainable agriculture and rural development planning, that simultaneously address food security, pesticide use and biodiversity conservation.

4 April 2017

In the latest in a series of articles seeking to shake up the conversation about food production and its trade-offs (see for example our previous summary of Elena Bennett’s Nature commentary, and the subsequent FCRN discussion forum), this opinion piece seeks to shift the focus of the discourse away from food production as the goal of agriculture, and towards food security, incorporating biodiversity outcomes.

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