Land Sharing vs. Land Sparing: A Spurious Dichotomy?

There is an ongoing debate within conservation research known as the “land sharing vs. land sparing” controversy: in a nutshell, it is about the perceived land-use trade-off between food (+biofuel) production needs and conservation of natural ecosystems. Should we create natural reserves and let nature thrive there, while intensifying agriculture on the remaining land? Or should we rather promote extensive agro-ecological systems, where protection of biodiversity is combined with food production (but with lower yields per unit of area)? The debate has not really moved forward for some time, possibly because the perspectives involved have been too narrow. However, it may also be that in some cases the dichotomy does not even exist:

As an ambitious program in Colombia demonstrates, combining grazing and agriculture with tree cultivation can coax more food from each acre, boost farmers’ incomes, restore degraded landscapes, and make farmland more resilient to climate change. [more]

Yes, this sounds too good to be true. But, as you may read in the original source of this quote, it actually is true. And while this specific case most likely cannot be generalized, it still provides a lot of “food for thought”. Enjoy.


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