Land sparing versus land sharing: an economist’s perspective

Abstract

The land sparing versus land sharing debate has already had a significant history and was particularly active during the last decade. Studies carried out mostly by ecologists and agronomists have clarified a number of issues related to best land use strategies in different landscapes, establishing that the best strategy depends first on the response of biodiversity to anthropogenic pressures, and can vary with the spatial scale of the analysis. We argue that the first contribution of an economist’s perspective is to place the idea of social efficiency, i.e., the improvement in human welfare from limited resources, at the heart of discussions and models concerning the food/biodiversity nexus. The purpose and meaning of economic approaches, whether incorporated into biophysical analyses or based on their results, is to identify and understand the logic and behaviour of agents and their impact on land use. We highlight some significant results derived from modelling work. In particular, it is shown that the assumption of fixed production target used in many works is unrealistic. We put into perspective recent work that analysed the effects of price changes and the impact of agricultural markets on land use. We conclude on the importance of integrating the economic mechanisms that guide individual and collective behaviours, in the design of local policy mix between land sparing and land sharing.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    If the ecological conditions allow it in the long run, an openfield of organic production would fit the land sharing concept. In fact, the literature on agroecology is often artificially linked to the LS² debate (as well as the debate on ecological intensification).

  2. 2.

    This effect is ambiguous and depends on the shape of the demand function for food. Intensification (assuming higher profit) increases the share of intensive agriculture, but may reduce more than proportionally the share of extensive farming if demand has a low price-elasticity. The overall result may depend on some type of rebound effect (see Lambin and Meyfroidt 2011).

  3. 3.

    The consumers’ surplus is the gain obtained by consumers when they can purchase a product for a price that is less than the highest price that they would be willing to pay it. The producers’ surplus is the gain obtained by producers when they sell their product at a price higher than the least that they would be willing to sell for, or what it cost to produce it. The total surplus (consumers’ and producers’ surplus) is equivalent to the net economic value.

  4. 4.

    It is perhaps not superfluous to remind that a large part of the populations suffering from hunger are poor peasants: “Today, nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry people are farmers and pastoralists who live in marginal lands in Asia and Africa” (Borlaug 2007).

References

  1. Allen R (1980) World conservation strategy. Living resource conservation for sustainable development. IUCN, Gland

    Google Scholar 

  2. Altieri MA (2002) Agroecology: the science of natural resource management for poor farmers in marginal environments. Agric Ecosyst Environ 93:1–24. doi:10.1016/S0167-8809(02)00085-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Andreyeva T, Long MW, Brownell KD (2010) The impact of food prices on consumption: a systematic review of research on the price elasticity of demand for food. Am J Public Health 100(2):216–222. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.151415

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Angelsen A, Kaimowitz D (eds) (2001) Agricultural technologies and tropical deforestation. CAB International, Wallingford, p 422

    Google Scholar 

  5. Badgley C, Perfecto I (2007) Can organic agriculture feed the world? Renew Agric Food Syst 22(02):80–86. doi:10.1017/S1742170507001871

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Badgley C, Moghtader J, Quintero E, Zakem E, Chappell MJ, Aviles-Vazquez K, Perfecto I (2007) Organic agriculture and the global food supply. Renew Agric Food Syst 22(2):86–108. doi:10.1017/S1742170507001871

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Balmford A, Green R, Scharlemann JP (2005) Sparing land for nature: exploring the potential impact of changes in agricultural yield on the area needed for crop production. Glob Chang Biol 11(10):1594–1605. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.001035.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Barraquand F, Martinet V (2011) Biological conservation in dynamic agricultural landscapes: effectiveness of public policies and trade-offs with agricultural production. Ecol Econ 70(5):910–920. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.12.019

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Batary P, Baldi A, Erdos S (2007) Grassland versus non-grassland bird abundance and diversity in managed grasslands: local, landscape and regional scale effects. Biodivers Conserv 16:871–881. doi:10.1007/s10531-006-9135-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Bignal EM, McCracken DI (1996) Low-intensity farming systems in the conservation of the countryside. J Appl Ecol 33:413–424. doi:10.2307/2404804

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Borlaug NE (2002) Feeding a world of 10 billion people: the miracle ahead. In Vitro Cell Develop Biol Plant 38(2):221–228. doi:10.1079/IVP2001279

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Borlaug N (2007) Feeding a hungry world. Science 318(5849):359. doi:10.1126/science.1151062

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Bougherara D, Combris P (2009) Eco-labelled food products: what are consumers paying for? Eur Rev Agric Econ 36(3):321–341. doi:10.1093/erae/jbp023

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Butsic V, Radeloff VC, Kuemmerle T, Pidgeon AM (2012) Analytical solutions to trade-offs between size of protected areas and land-use intensity. Conserv Biol 26:883–893. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01887.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Chazdon RL, Harvey CA, Komar O, Griffith DM, Ferguson BG, Martínez-Ramos M, Philpott SM (2009) Beyond reserves: a research agenda for conserving biodiversity in human-modified tropical landscapes. Biotropica 41(2):142–153. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2008.00471.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Chiron F, Chargé R, Julliard R, Jiguet F, Muratet A (2014) Pesticide doses, landscape structure and their relative effects on farmland birds. Agric Ecosyst Environ 185:153–160. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2013.12.013

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Costello C, Polasky S (2004) Dynamic reserve site selection. Resour Energy Econ 26(2):157–174. doi:10.1002/aqc.2369

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Desquilbet M, Dorin B, Couvet D (2013) Land sharing ou land sparing pour la biodiversité: comment les marchés agricoles font la différence. Innov Agron 32:377–389

    Google Scholar 

  19. Desquilbet M, Dorin B, Couvet D (2016) Land sharing vs land sparing to conserve biodiversity: how agricultural markets make the difference. Environ Model Assess. doi:10.1007/s10666-016-9531-5

    Google Scholar 

  20. Ekroos J, Hyvönen T, Tiainen J, Tiira M (2010) Responses in plant and carabid communities to farming practises in boreal landscapes. Agric Ecosyst Environ 135(4):288–293

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ewers RM, Scharlemann JPW, Balmford A, Green RE (2009) Do increases in agricultural yield spare land for nature? Glob Chang Biol 15:1716–1726. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.01849.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Fischer J, Brosi B, Daily GC, Ehrlich PR, Goldman R, Goldstein J, Tallis H (2008) Should agricultural policies encourage land sparing or wildlife-friendly farming? Front Ecol Environ 6(7):380–385. doi:10.1890/070019

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Fischer J, Abson DJ, Butsic V, Chappell MJ, Ekroos J, Hanspach J, Wehrden H (2014) Land sparing versus land sharing: moving forward. Conserv Lett 7(3):149–157. doi:10.1111/conl.12084

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Godfray HCJ (2011) Food and biodiversity. Science 333(6047):1231–1232. doi:10.1126/science.1211815

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Godfray HCJ, Beddington JR, Crute IR, Haddad L, Lawrence D, Muir JF, Toulmin C (2010) Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327(5967):812–818. doi:10.1126/science.1185383

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Goklany IM (1998) Saving habitat and conserving biodiversity on a crowded planet. Bioscience 48(11):941–953. doi:10.2307/1313298

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Grau R, Kuemmerle T, Macchi L (2013) Beyond ‘land sparing versus land sharing’: environmental heterogeneity, globalization and the balance between agricultural production and nature conservation. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 5(5):477–483. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.06.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Green RE, Cornell SJ, Scharlemann JP, Balmford A (2005) Farming and the fate of wild nature. Science 307(5709):550–555. doi:10.1126/science.1106049

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Griffon M, Weber J (1998) Economic and institutional aspects of the Doubly Green Revolution. Dev Res Netw Nat Res Environ Ecol (USA) 9(4):39–42

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hart R, Brady M, Olsson O (2014) Joint production of food and wildlife: uniform measures or nature oases? Environ Resour Econ 59(2):187–205. doi:10.1007/s10640-013-9723-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hertel TW, Ramankutty N, Baldos ULC (2014) Global market integration increases likelihood that a future African Green Revolution could increase crop land use and CO2 emissions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111(38):13799–13804. doi:10.1073/pnas.1403543111

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hulme MF, Vickery JA, Green RE, Phalan B, Chamberlain DE, Pomeroy DE, Atkinson PW (2013) Conserving the birds of Uganda’s banana-coffee arc: land sparing and land sharing compared. PLoS ONE 8(2):e54597. doi:10.1371/journal.pone

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Kaimowitz D (1996) Livestock and deforestation in Central America in the 1980s and 1990s: a policy perspective. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Jakarta, p 88

    Google Scholar 

  34. Kendall HW, Pimentel D (1994) Constraints on the expansion of the global food supply. Ambio 23:198–205

    Google Scholar 

  35. Kleijn D, Kohler F, Baldi A (2009) On the relationship between farmland biodiversity and land-use intensity in Europe. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 276:903–909. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1509

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Kremen C (2015) Reframing the land-sparing/land-sharing debate for biodiversity conservation. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1355(1):52–76. doi:10.1111/nyas.12845

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Lambin EF, Meyfroidt P (2011) Global land use change, economic globalization, and the looming land scarcity. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108(9):3465–3472. doi:10.1073/pnas.1100480108

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Loos J, Abson DJ, Chappell MJ, Hanspach J, Mikulcak F, Tichit M, Fischer J (2014) Putting meaning back into “sustainable intensification”. Front Ecol Environ 12(6):356–361. doi:10.1890/130157

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Martinet V (2014) The economics of the food versus biodiversity debate. Paper presented at the EAAE 2014 Congress, agri-food and rural innovations for healthier societies, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 26–29 Aug 2014

  40. Martinet V, Barraquand F (2012) Trade-offs between food production and biodiversity conservation: some economic aspects. Paper presented at 14th BioEcon conference resource economics, biodiversity conservation and development, Kings College, Cambridge (UK), 18–20 Sep

  41. Matson PA, Vitousek PM (2006) Agricultural intensification: will land spared from farming be land spared for nature? Conserv Biol 20(3):709–710. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00442.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Mouysset L, Doyen L, Jiguet F (2014) From population viability analysis to coviability of farmland biodiversity and agriculture. Conserv Biol 28(1):187–201. doi:10.1111/cobi.12184

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Naidoo R, Balmford A, Ferraro PJ, Polasky S, Ricketts TH, Rouget M (2006) Integrating economic costs into conservation planning. Trends Ecol Evol 21(12):681–687. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2006.10.003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Paracchini ML, Petersen JE, Hoogeveen Y, Bamps C, Burfield I, van Swaay C (2008). High nature value farmland in Europe. An estimate of the distribution patterns on the basis of land cover and biodiversity data, Luxemburg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities

  45. Perfecto I, Vandermeer J (2008a) Biodiversity conservation in tropical agroecosystems. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1134(1):173–200. doi:10.1196/annals.1439.011

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Perfecto I, Vandermeer J (2008b) Spatial pattern and ecological process in the coffee agroforestry system. Ecology 89(4):915–920

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Perfecto I, Vandermeer J (2010) The agroecological matrix as alternative to the land-sparing/agriculture intensification model. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107(13):5786–5791. doi:10.1073/pnas.0905455107

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Perfecto I, Vandermeer J, Mas A, Pinto L (2005) Biodiversity, yield, and shade coffee certification. Ecol Econ 54:435–446. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.10.009

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Phalan B, Onial M, Balmford A, Green RE (2011a) Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared. Science 333(6047):1289–1291. doi:10.1126/science.1208742

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Phalan B, Balmford A, Green RE, Scharlemann JP (2011b) Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally. Food Policy 36:S62–S71. doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2010.11.008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Phalan B, Green R, Balmford A (2014) Closing yield gaps: perils and possibilities for biodiversity conservation. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 369(1639):20120285. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0285

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Pimentel D, Stachow U, Takacs DA, Brubaker HW, Dumas AR, Meaney JJ, O'Neil JAS, Onsi DE, Corzilius DB (1992) Conserving biological diversity in agricultural/forestry systems. Bioscience 42:354–362. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1311782

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Polasky S, Costello C, McAusland C (2004) On trade, land-use, and biodiversity. J Environ Econ Manag 48(2):911–925. doi:10.1016/j.jeem.2003.11.003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Polasky S, Nelson E, Camm J, Csuti B, Fackler P, Lonsdorf E, Tobalske C (2008) Where to put things? Spatial land management to sustain biodiversity and economic returns. Biol Conserv 141(6):1505–1524. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.03.022

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Queiroz C, Beilin R, Folke C, Lindborg R (2014) Farmland abandonment: threat or opportunity for biodiversity conservation? A global review. Front Ecol Environ 12(5):288–296. doi:10.1890/120348

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Ranganathan J, Daniels RJR, Chandran MDS, Ehrlich PR, Daily GC (2008) Sustaining biodiversity in ancient tropical countryside. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:17852–17854. doi:10.1073/pnas.0808874105

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Roebeling PC, Hendrix EMT (2010) Land speculation and interest rate subsidies as a cause of deforestation: the role of cattle ranching in Costa Rica. Land Use Policy 27:489–496. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.07.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Scariot A (2013) Land sparing or land sharing: the missing link. Front Ecol Environ 11:177–178. doi:10.1890/13.WB.008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Sen A (1981) Poverty and famines: an essay on entitlement and deprivation. Oxford Clarendon Press, Oxford, p 257

    Google Scholar 

  60. Seufert V, Ramankutty N, Foley JA (2012) Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature 485(7397):229–232. doi:10.1038/nature11069

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Steffan-Dewenter I, Kessler M, Barkmann J, Bos MM, Buchori D, Erasmi S, Tscharntke T (2007) Tradeoffs between income, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning during tropical rainforest conversion and agroforestry intensification. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(12):4973–4978. doi:10.1073/pnas.0608409104

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Teillard F (2012) Reconciling food production and biodiversity in farmlands: the role of agricultural intensity and its spatial allocation. PhD dissertation, Université Paris Descartes. https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-00766882/

  63. Teillard F, Allaire G, Cahuzac E, Léger F, Maigné E, Tichit M (2012) A novel method for mapping agricultural intensity reveals its spatial aggregation: implications for conservation policies. Agric Ecosyst Environ 149:135–143. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2011.12.018

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Teillard F, Jiguet F, Tichit M (2015) The response of farmland bird communities to agricultural intensity as influenced by aggregation. PLoS ONE 10(3):e0119674. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119674

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Tilman D, Cassman KG, Matson PA, Naylor R, Polasky S (2002) Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices. Nature 418(6898):671–677

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Tilman D, Fargione J, Wolff B, D’Antonio C, Dobson A, Howarth R, Swackhamer D (2001) Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change. Science 292(5515):281–284. doi:10.1126/science.1057544

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Tomich TP, Van Noordwjik M, Budidarsono S, Gillison AN, Kusumanto T, Murdiyarso D, Stolle F, Fagi AM (2001) Agricultural intensification, deforestation, and the environment: assessing tradeoffs in Sumatra, Indonesia. In: Lee DR, Barrett CB (eds) Tradeoffs or synergies?: agricultural intensification, economic development, and the environment. CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, UK, pp 221–244

    Google Scholar 

  68. Trewavas AJ (2001) The population/biodiversity paradox. Agricultural efficiency to save wilderness. Plant Physiol 125(1):174–179. doi:10.1104/pp.125.1.174

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Tscharntke T, Clough Y, Wanger TC, Jackson L, Motzke I, Perfecto I, Whitbread A (2012) Global food security, biodiversity conservation and the future of agricultural intensification. Biol Conserv 151(1):53–59. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.01.068

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Van Noordwijk M, Tomich TP, Verbist B (2003) Negotiation support models for integrated natural resource management in tropical forest margins. In: Campbell BM, Sayer JA (eds) Integrated natural resource management: linking productivity, the environment, and development. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, pp 87–108

    Google Scholar 

  71. Vandermeer J, Perfecto I (2005) The future of farming and conservation. Science 308(5726):1257–1258

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Waggoner PE (1996) How much land can ten billion people spare for nature? Daedalus 73–93. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20027371

Download references

Acknowledgements

A first version of this paper was presented at the 3rd International Conference: Biodiversity and Food SecurityFrom Tradeoffs to Synergies, Aix-en-Provence, October 29–31, 2014. The authors wish to express their sincere thanks to the organizers and participants of the conference, to Vincent Martinet (INRA Eco-Pub, Paris) for friendly and useful comments on an earlier version of the text, and to three referees whose criticisms and suggestions have indeed contributed to improve this text.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jean-Michel Salles.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Salles, JM., Teillard, F., Tichit, M. et al. Land sparing versus land sharing: an economist’s perspective. Reg Environ Change 17, 1455–1465 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1142-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Conservation
  • Economic analysis
  • Land sharing
  • Land sparing