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

    82 Citations (Scopus)
    148 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 Sept 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

    Bibliographical note

    This article has been accepted for publication in Regional Environmental Change. 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


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