Forest islands in an agricultural sea

Alexandra-Maria Klein, Virginie Boreux, Michael Jahi Chappell, Stacy Michelle Philpott, Joern Fischer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Under the current scenario of continuing human population growth, achieving high agricultural yield while conserving forest biodiversity is challenging scientists and policy makers alike. There is ongoing debate as to whether biodiversity should be integrated on the same land (land sharing) or separated from agriculture (land sparing). Here, we present examples of land-sharing practices (agroforestry systems and multipurpose forests) and demonstrate that forest biodiversity conservation does not necessarily compromise crop yield. There is no simple trade-off between biodiversity and yield, and the complexity of crop yield-biodiversity relationships has not yet been fully investigated, at either the habitat or the landscape scale. We argue that land-sparing management has to be considered at different spatial scales. Agriculture in large-scale land sparing (intensive agriculture separated from forest remnants) generally does not benefit much from ecosystem services mediated by forest biodiversity, but small forest remnants can enhance biodiversity in large agricultural and forestry plantations. Small-scale land sparing (intensive agriculture connected to forest remnants) promotes beneficial organisms and their associated ecosystem services. In such landscapes, wild beneficial organisms, e.g. a diversity of pollinators, can enhance and stabilize crop pollination in intensively managed fields due to spillover from forests into crop fields. Functional connectivity of forest remnants (single trees, treelines, hedgerows and forest patches) in high-input agricultural landscapes can enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services, but future research needs to consider connectivity at various land-sparing scales to evaluate their conservation effectiveness. Furthermore, landscape developments minimizing possible adverse consequences of forest conservation on crop production are currently often overlooked but need to be considered in future research and landscape planning. We argue that both land sharing and land sparing can promote biodiversity without compromising high yields, and that a combination of management strategies at different spatial scales, including the maintenance of forest connectivity, may most effectively safeguard both biodiversity and livelihood security.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGlobal forest fragmentation
    EditorsChris Kettle, Lian Pin Koh
    Place of PublicationWallingford
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Print)978-1-78064-203-1, 978-1-78064-497-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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