November 4, 2014: Guest Lecture
Navin Ramankutty

IRES Seminar Series

Time: 12:30-1:20 pm

Location: AERL Theatre (room 120), 2202 Main Mall

To spare or share: Reconciling food production and the environment


Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability


Abstract: Balancing food production and environmental conservation is a major challenge of the 21st century. There is now an intense debate regarding the best way to manage agricultural lands, with some scholars arguing that we should intensify production on the best agriculture lands, take agriculture away from the margins, and thereby “spare land” for nature. Others argue for “land sharing” with low intensity production co-existing with nature but using a larger area of land for agriculture. This talk will examine two aspects of the debate. First, the argument for land sparing has focussed solely on biodiversity, forgetting that it is only one of several major global environmental concerns. I will review the literature to evaluate the sparing/sharing model for other major environmental concerns. Second, I will evaluate one of the main arguments against land sparing that, in practice, new productivity-enhancing agricultural innovations result in increased, not decreased, land use. My review and analysis find that the case for land sparing or sharing is highly contextual, and should consider a suite of ecological, economic, socio-cultural, and historical conditions.


More information about Dr. Navin Ramankutty.