Land use intensification: The promise of sustainability and the reality of trade-offs

Adrian Martin, Brendan Coolsaet, Esteve Corbera, Neil Dawson, Janet Fisher, Phil Franks, Ole Mertz, Unai Pascual, Laura Rasmussen, Casey Ryan

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Land use intensification is widely considered to be an essential strategy for achieving global goals to eliminate poverty and to avoid damaging losses of ecosystem services. This chapter investigates whether current land use intensification activities are achieving these twin goals. To do so, it reviews a body of academic literature that reports on case studies in which both social and ecological outcomes of intensification are reported. There are two main findings. First, there are relatively few cases in which land use intensification is clearly succeeding in these twinned objectives. There are many more cases in which, for example, short-term income or productivity gains from land use intensification are resulting in long-term diminution of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Studies with longer-term perspectives are already seeing how such trade-offs are leading to negative feedbacks for human wellbeing, especially for marginalised social groups. Secondly, we learn most from those studies that a) go beyond measuring production and income to measure multiple dimensions of wellbeing and ecosystem services, b) monitor dynamics of outcomes across longer time periods and across landscapes and c) disaggregate outcome measures to identify outcomes for different social groups.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation
Subtitle of host publicationTrade-offs and Governance
EditorsKate Schreckenberg, Georgina Mace, Mahesh Poudyal
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9780429016295
ISBN (Print)9781138580848, 9781138580831
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2018

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