Can agricultural intensification help to conserve biodiversity? A scenario study for the African continent
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Globally, the production of food, feed, bioenergy, and biomaterials has increased considerably during the past decades. This was achieved by the expansion of agricultural land and the intensification of agricultural management. Due to the conversion of natural ecosystems and the increasing use of pesticides and fertilizers, these processes are recognized as important causes of biodiversity loss. This study focuses on the African continent and analyses the potentials to achieve a stable food provision for a growing population, and at the same time, reduce further losses of biodiversity. These targets are important elements of the UN Agenda 2030. Using the spatially explicit land-use model LandSHIFT, we assessed the effectiveness of different land-sparing and land-sharing strategies to achieve these targets until the year 2030. The simulation results indicate that under the assumptions tested, the land sparing approach yields the most desirable results both, on the continental and the regional level. However, the land sharing/sparing framework in general, and the research presented here only analyse the effect of two factors of many (food production and biodiversity conservation). Hence, this study should not be understood to provide specific management recommendations. Further studies, from the regional to the local level, are required that apply a systems approach to understand and explain the multiple dimensions of sustainable food production on the African continent.
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