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

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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
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1291-1301
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2017

    Research areas

  • Sustainability Science - Brazil, Cerrado, Food security, Food sovereignty, Land sharing, Land sparing, Sustainable intensification, Yield gaps