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Reconciling Food Production and Biodiversity Conservation: Land Sharing and Land Sparing Compared

Science  02 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6047, pp. 1289-1291
DOI: 10.1126/science.1208742

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Abstract

The question of how to meet rising food demand at the least cost to biodiversity requires the evaluation of two contrasting alternatives: land sharing, which integrates both objectives on the same land; and land sparing, in which high-yield farming is combined with protecting natural habitats from conversion to agriculture. To test these alternatives, we compared crop yields and densities of bird and tree species across gradients of agricultural intensity in southwest Ghana and northern India. More species were negatively affected by agriculture than benefited from it, particularly among species with small global ranges. For both taxa in both countries, land sparing is a more promising strategy for minimizing negative impacts of food production, at both current and anticipated future levels of production.

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