A social-ecological perspective on harmonizing food security and biodiversity conservation

H. Wittman, M. Jahi Chappell, D. J. Abson, R. Bezner Kerr, J. Blesh, J. Hanspach, I. Perfecto, J. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
88 Downloads (Pure)


The major challenges of improving food security and biodiversity conservation are intricately linked. To date, the intersection of food security and biodiversity conservation has been viewed primarily through an agricultural 'production lens' - for example, via the land sparing/sharing framework, or the concept of sustainable intensification. However, a productionist perspective has been criticized for being too narrow, and failing to consider other relevant factors, including policy, equity, and diversity. We propose an approach that conceptualizes rural landscapes as social-ecological systems embedded within intersecting multi-scalar processes. Based on such a framing, empirical research can be more clearly set in the context of system properties that may influence food security, biodiversity conservation, or both. We illustrate our approach through a description of contrasting agricultural systems within Brazil's Cerrado region. We emphasize the need for new empirical research involving systematic comparisons of social-ecological system properties in landscapes threatened by food insecurity and ecosystem degradation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1291-1301
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number5
Early online date26 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

This article has been accepted for publication in Regional Environmental Change. Full citation details will be uploaded when available.
Copyright The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com. This article is distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://crea
tivecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give
appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a
link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were


  • Brazil
  • Cerrado
  • food sovereignty
  • food security
  • land sparing
  • land sharing
  • sustainable intensification
  • yield gaps

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A social-ecological perspective on harmonizing food security and biodiversity conservation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this