Land -Sparing vs. Wildlife-Friendly Agriculture

Land -Sparing vs. Wildlife-Friendly Agriculture - CONCEPTS...

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380 www.frontiersinecology.org © The Ecological Society of America T he need to balance biodiversity and agriculture has never been greater. In the past 40 years, the human population has doubled to 6.5 billion, and is projected to grow to 9.2 billion by 2050 (Population Reference Bureau 2006). Humanity’s increasing demand for food and fuel puts pressure on ecosystems around the world (MA 2005). Alongside climate change, land conversion for agriculture poses the greatest threat to terrestrial biodiversity (Foley et al . 2005), and it is projected to intensify on many fronts, from subsistence to large-scale biofuel production (Ragauskas et al . 2006). The threats involved in land con- version are considerable, because biodiversity generates ecosystem conditions, functions, and services essential to agriculture, such as nutrient recycling, pest control, polli- nation, and the regulation of water flows (MA 2005). Given the intimate links between agriculture and biodi- versity, strategies are urgently required to balance the two. Waggoner (1996) first coined the phrase “sparing land for nature” from agricultural production. More recently, a high-profile paper by Green et al . (2005) revived this phrase, sparking renewed debate about how agriculture and biodiversity should be integrated (Balmford et al . 2005; Matson and Vitousek 2006; Dorrough et al . 2007; Vandermeer and Perfecto 2007). Green et al . (2005) framed the balancing act between agriculture and biodi- versity as a trade-off between two contrasting manage- ment options: land sparing and wildlife-friendly farming. In land sparing, agricultural areas are used intensively. This results in a high agricultural yield from a relatively small area of land, thereby allowing for the permanent preservation of species-rich areas nearby (Green et al . 2005). Farmland in intensive systems tends to support relatively few species of macrofauna (Benton et al . 2003; Eggleton et al . 2005; Tscharntke et al . 2005), although the diversity of microbes can remain quite high (Tiedje et al . 1999). In wildlife-friendly farming, agricultural yields tend to be lower per unit area (Green et al . 2005; but see Perfecto et al . 2005). Therefore, a larger land area is typically needed to produce the same agricultural yield. While this leaves less land for permanent preservation, more biodi- versity can occur on the “wildlife-friendly” farmland itself (Green et al . 2005). CONCEPTS AND QUESTIONS Should agricultural policies encourage land sparing or wildlife-friendly farming? Joern Fischer 1* , Berry Brosi 2 , Gretchen C Daily 2 , Paul R Ehrlich 2 , Rebecca Goldman 2 , Joshua Goldstein 2 , David B Lindenmayer 1 , Adrian D Manning 1 , Harold A Mooney 2 , Liba Pejchar 2 , Jai Ranganathan 2 , and Heather Tallis 2 As the demands on agricultural lands to produce food, fuel, and fiber continue to expand, effective strate- gies are urgently needed to balance biodiversity conservation and agricultural production. “Land sparing”
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Land -Sparing vs. Wildlife-Friendly Agriculture - CONCEPTS...

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