LAND                                           ARE                              SPARING          SLOSS                    ...
Outline1.   Problems within the debate2.   Problems about the debate3.   A few words on sustainable intensification4.   Mo...
Problems within the debate: Polarisation  Why is this framed as two mutually exclusive options?  Compare SLOSS debate, cor...
Problems within the debate: Wrong conceptual basis  Motivated from the perspective of ―feeding the world‖     If this is t...
Problems within the debate: Internal vagueness  Vagueness about:     What is to be spared?     Scale issues     Target spe...
Problems about the debate: Overuse  If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail…  Green et al. (2005) showed  there...
Problems about the debate: Overuse  ―… there are at least four reasons why conservationists should be  cautious about the ...
Resolving the debate: A first attempt          Fischer et al. 2008. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Resolving the debate: A first attempt  The debate has hardened rather than matured  ―Both social and biophysical factors i...
Resolving the debate: A new attempt  This has little to do with science per se  All about worldviews, paradigms and ideolo...
‘Realist’ arguments  Yields must increase!      Global demand is taken as given and should be met      Policy makers seen ...
‘Idealist’ arguments  Yields are only a minor component of a much bigger problem!      Refusal to take anything as given –...
‘Realist’ arguments – working within the system  ―Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally‖  (P...
‘Idealist’ arguments – challenging the system  ―In a world where obesity and hunger co-occur, it seems beside the point to...
What about sustainable intensification?  Politically powerful but potentially ―empty‖  Win-wins should always be the first...
Moving on gracefully Values & assumptions                      Should not be ignored given the situation at hand          ...
Back to the roots of our discipline  Michael Soulé in 1980s: conservation biology is normative, multi-  disciplinary and d...
Conclusion   Michael Soulé in 1980s: conservation biology is normative, multi-   disciplinary and diverse   Michael Soulé ...
Acknowledgements Thanks for funding to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Sofja Kovalevskaja Award 2010)              ...
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Land sharing or land sparing

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My talk on land sparing versus land sharing, presented at #ECCB2012 in Glasgow

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  • Problems at many levels:Polarisation: These things end up useless because they are polarized. If we start with a polarized question, we will get a polarized answer. Wrong conceptual premise: regional food security is largely unrelated to global food supplyInternal sloppiness at many levels: what is to be spared? Even land shared with livestock is now being advocated to be spared – how much more confused can we get? Is a field margin an example of land sparing or sharing? Currently it depends who you ask. For which target species? Farmland species or forest species? Frontier landscapes only or cultural landscapes, too? Culture -- how does that matter, anyway?
  • Problems at many levels:Polarisation: These things end up useless because they are polarized. If we start with a polarized question, we will get a polarized answer. Wrong conceptual premise: regional food security is largely unrelated to global food supplyInternal sloppiness at many levels: what is to be spared? Even land shared with livestock is now being advocated to be spared – how much more confused can we get? Is a field margin an example of land sparing or sharing? Currently it depends who you ask. For which target species? Farmland species or forest species? Frontier landscapes only or cultural landscapes, too? Culture -- how does that matter, anyway?
  • Problems at many levels:Polarisation: These things end up useless because they are polarized. If we start with a polarized question, we will get a polarized answer. Wrong conceptual premise: regional food security is largely unrelated to global food supplyInternal sloppiness at many levels: what is to be spared? Even land shared with livestock is now being advocated to be spared – how much more confused can we get? Is a field margin an example of land sparing or sharing? Currently it depends who you ask. For which target species? Farmland species or forest species? Frontier landscapes only or cultural landscapes, too? Culture -- how does that matter, anyway?
  • Problems at many levels:Polarisation: These things end up useless because they are polarized. If we start with a polarized question, we will get a polarized answer. Wrong conceptual premise: regional food security is largely unrelated to global food supplyInternal sloppiness at many levels: what is to be spared? Even land shared with livestock is now being advocated to be spared – how much more confused can we get? Is a field margin an example of land sparing or sharing? Currently it depends who you ask. For which target species? Farmland species or forest species? Frontier landscapes only or cultural landscapes, too? Culture -- how does that matter, anyway?
  • For every theory in conservation: know its limitsThis model is conceptually useful, and it raises the idea of an interesting trade-off. That is fine. What’s not fine, to my mind, is that this conceptual model is now over-applied well beyond its useful conceptual domain, as if it could be used to inform real-world questions directly. Those are place-dependent. Those happen in a social context. Here a quote by Phalan “there are at least four reasons why conservationists should be cautious about the idea that agriculture is a key element for conservation in the developing world (or indeed anywhere)” – If I stood here and told you that “there are at least four reasons why conservationists should be cautious about the idea that protected areas are a key element for conservation in the developing world (or indeed anywhere)” -- would you take me serious? This is the same thing. We’ve had 20 years on matrix management, and to move back to an island view as the preferred “alternative” is simply moving backwards. It should be clear that we need both.
  • My diplomatic position from 2008I started out diplomatic, but I have lost my patience. my personal opinion started out very diplomatic: show 2008 graph and main conclusions; while this paper may not be “perfect”, the key point is that this is about balance, not one or the other – we are essentially dealing with a false dichotomy hereCite something from the response letterThe debate has not matured but hardened; Phalan et al. is complete conceptual stagnation compared to years earlierIt is now high time that we bury this hardened, simplistic, and dichotomous debate and re-focus on what the problems demand to prioritise our research
  • My diplomatic position from 2008I started out diplomatic, but I have lost my patience. my personal opinion started out very diplomatic: show 2008 graph and main conclusions; while this paper may not be “perfect”, the key point is that this is about balance, not one or the other – we are essentially dealing with a false dichotomy hereCite something from the response letterThe debate has not matured but hardened; Phalan et al. is complete conceptual stagnation compared to years earlierIt is now high time that we bury this hardened, simplistic, and dichotomous debate and re-focus on what the problems demand to prioritise our research
  • An amateur psychological assessmentBefore I get to my hit list of key problems, I would like to draw your attention to some underlying issues that are usually missedI propose that is not about the science, but about the worldviews, paradigms and ideologies underpinning that scienceWhen looking at who favours land sparing or land sharing, we have realists and idealists
  • Realist arguments – “yields must increase”:These take rising demand as given.These argue it needs to be met.These see policy makers in need of advice, so they can optimize decisions.They are heavily rooted in quantitative frameworks, seeking to find objective solutions to complex problemsThey tend to be dispassionate analystsThis is the realm of traditional natural scientists. Ever improving in sophistication and data foundation
  • Realist arguments – “yields must increase”:These take rising demand as given.These argue it needs to be met.These see policy makers in need of advice, so they can optimize decisions.They are heavily rooted in quantitative frameworks, seeking to find objective solutions to complex problemsThey tend to be dispassionate analystsThis is the realm of traditional natural scientists. Ever improving in sophistication and data foundation
  • classic forecasting mode; we take the world as given and predict what will happen; the conventional realm of (often very sophisticated) scienceThen it’s up to policy to fix this situationPolitically acceptable and highly publishable
  • Politically not very acceptable (challenging the system per se), and less publishable in top-tier natural science journals
  • Problems at many levels:Polarisation: These things end up useless because they are polarized. If we start with a polarized question, we will get a polarized answer. Wrong conceptual premise: regional food security is largely unrelated to global food supplyInternal sloppiness at many levels: what is to be spared? Even land shared with livestock is now being advocated to be spared – how much more confused can we get? Is a field margin an example of land sparing or sharing? Currently it depends who you ask. For which target species? Farmland species or forest species? Frontier landscapes only or cultural landscapes, too? Culture -- how does that matter, anyway?
  • My diplomatic position from 2008I started out diplomatic, but I have lost my patience. my personal opinion started out very diplomatic: show 2008 graph and main conclusions; while this paper may not be “perfect”, the key point is that this is about balance, not one or the other – we are essentially dealing with a false dichotomy hereCite something from the response letterThe debate has not matured but hardened; Phalan et al. is complete conceptual stagnation compared to years earlierIt is now high time that we bury this hardened, simplistic, and dichotomous debate and re-focus on what the problems demand to prioritise our research
  • Land sharing or land sparing

    1. 1. LAND ARE SPARING SLOSS CORRIDORS VS. GOOD LAND OR BAD? SHARING Beyond a false dichotomy Professor Joern FischerEmail: jfischer@leuphana.de Blog: http://ideas4sustainability.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @ideas4sust Image source: http://fernandezrip.blogspot.com/2011/07/rest-in-peace-fernandez.html
    2. 2. Outline1. Problems within the debate2. Problems about the debate3. A few words on sustainable intensification4. Moving on gracefully Fischer et al. 2008. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
    3. 3. Problems within the debate: Polarisation Why is this framed as two mutually exclusive options? Compare SLOSS debate, corridors debate: Polarised question yields heated, self-serving debates
    4. 4. Problems within the debate: Wrong conceptual basis Motivated from the perspective of ―feeding the world‖ If this is the goal, primary problems relate to global equity issues, female secondary education, fertility management (directly and indirectly) Why over-emphasise supply rather than distribution, food waste, dietary habits? “A defeated argument that refuses to be obliterated can remain very alive.” (Amartya Sen)
    5. 5. Problems within the debate: Internal vagueness Vagueness about: What is to be spared? Scale issues Target species? Where?
    6. 6. Problems about the debate: Overuse If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail… Green et al. (2005) showed there may be a trade-off b/w yields and biodiversity This is useful conceptually! But now being used a long way beyond its conceptual limits
    7. 7. Problems about the debate: Overuse ―… there are at least four reasons why conservationists should be cautious about the idea that agriculture is a key element for conservation in the developing world (or indeed anywhere)‖ – Phalan et al. 2012, Conservation Letters Source: http://www.cbd.int/images/map20.gif; Foley et al. 2007, PNAS
    8. 8. Resolving the debate: A first attempt Fischer et al. 2008. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
    9. 9. Resolving the debate: A first attempt The debate has hardened rather than matured ―Both social and biophysical factors influence which approach is feasible or appropriate in a given landscape. Drawing upon the strengths of each approach, we outline broad policy guidelines for conservation in agricultural landscapes.‖ (Fischer et al. 2008) Polarisation = self-serving = producing papers above all else Fischer et al. 2008. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
    10. 10. Resolving the debate: A new attempt This has little to do with science per se All about worldviews, paradigms and ideologies underpinning different types of science Underlying premise: Values => Goals => Solutions Image source: http://corporatelifecoach.blogspot.de/2012/01/idealist-vs-realist.html
    11. 11. ‘Realist’ arguments Yields must increase! Global demand is taken as given and should be met Policy makers seen as in need of advice, so they can optimize decisions Real-world decisions seen as coming from the top Heavily rooted in quantitative frameworks, seeking to find objective solutions to complex problems Dispassionate analysis favoured (= a simple numbers game) Firmly the realm of traditional natural science Seeks improved empirical basis and more sophisticated models
    12. 12. ‘Idealist’ arguments Yields are only a minor component of a much bigger problem! Refusal to take anything as given – asking simply ―where do we need to go‖? Because these arguments routinely challenge status quo politics, there is no particular emphasis on advising policy makers – local bottom-up strategies believed to be important Often heavily motivated by ethical, rather than purely scientific interests Many arguments are qualitative and not dispassionate e.g. taking a stance on the political issue of food sovereignty – no special value attributed to quantitative sophistication
    13. 13. ‘Realist’ arguments – working within the system ―Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally‖ (Phalan et al. 2011) ―Even with recent productivity gains, roughly one in seven people lack access to food or are chronically malnourished, stemming from continued poverty and mounting food prices…‖ [but focus then continues to gloss over distribution issues, emphasising instead quantity of food:] ―Our analysis demonstrates that four core strategies can—in principle—meet future food production needs and environmental challenges if deployed simultaneously. Adding them together, they increase global food availability by 100–180%, meeting projected demands while lowering greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity losses, water use and water pollution.‖ (Foley et al. 2011) ―Here, we forecast 2050 global crop demand and then quantitatively evaluate the global impacts on land clearing‖ (Tilman et al. 2011)
    14. 14. ‘Idealist’ arguments – challenging the system ―In a world where obesity and hunger co-occur, it seems beside the point to argue about yield increases‖ (Chappell and LaValle 2011) ―Food security and … sovereignty are needed where the hungry live, which is often within a landscape matrix of ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity …. Hunger … is not so much linked to the quantity of food … but to poverty...‖ (Tscharntke et al. 2012) ―The simple model by Phalan et al. ignores vital social and ecological complexities, including rural livelihoods … Social and ecological complexities must not be an afterthought in analyses about food and biodiversity, because they fundamentally alter the outcome. Simple models must be balanced with holistic… approaches ... Otherwise there is a great risk that internally consistent solutions are overinterpreted as externally applicable by policy-makers… and the public.‖ (Fischer et al. 2011)
    15. 15. What about sustainable intensification? Politically powerful but potentially ―empty‖ Win-wins should always be the first goal But win-win seems unlikely in many settings Just as vague Just as political Just as ―universal‖ in flavour
    16. 16. Moving on gracefully Values & assumptions Should not be ignored given the situation at hand The situation shapes what we deem important Goals & objectives Must be explicit, including recognition of multiple trade-offs given the situation at hand Reality severely constrains the set of reasonable solutions Solution No one-size-fits all solutions Fischer et al. 2008. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
    17. 17. Back to the roots of our discipline Michael Soulé in 1980s: conservation biology is normative, multi- disciplinary and diverse Michael Soulé in the 2000s: we need to appreciate and collaborate with other ―life-affirming movements‖ (e.g. human rights, animal rights, biodiversity rights) Has conservation biology lost its self-awareness? Source: http://www.conservationgis.org/scgis/ScgNews1/graphics/soule1b.jpg
    18. 18. Conclusion Michael Soulé in 1980s: conservation biology is normative, multi- disciplinary and diverse Michael Soulé in the 2000s: we need to appreciate and collaborate with other ―life-affirming movements‖ (e.g. human rights, animal rights, biodiversity rights)Take-home messages:1. We need to explicitly and consciously position ourselves in terms of our values and objectives to avoid futile debates;2. We need to appreciate conceptual models without over-using them;3. There is (much) more to this problem than biodiversity and yields.
    19. 19. Acknowledgements Thanks for funding to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Sofja Kovalevskaja Award 2010) LAND SPARING Thanks to countless collaborators who VS. LAND have inspired and challenged me on SHARING these issues Thanks especially to those I disagree with for listening

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