The comparative performance of land sharing, land sparing type interventions on place‐based human well‐being

Rachel Carmenta, Angela Steward, Adrielly Albuquerque, Renan Carneiro, Bhaskar Vira, Natalia Estrada Carmona

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Environment-facing interventions impact the distribution, use of and access of natural resources and have important implications for all dimensions (material, relational, quality of life) of human well-being (HWB). Yet conventional impact metrics routinely surpass the non-material impacts which may be particularly salient in rural contexts where small-scale farmers depend directly on the land and biodiversity. Furthermore, little is known about the comparative performance of distinct interventions along a land-sharing, versus land sparing gradient, on local definitions of HWB.

We address this knowledge gap, adopting a perception-based impact evaluation within communities across four intervention types representing the land sparing, sharing gradient: intensified industrial soy production (n = 60 HHs), a protected area (n = 70), an extractive reserve (n = 70) and a national forest (n = 70) in Pará in the Brazilian Amazon. We collected data using the Global Person Generated Index (GPGI) with household heads (n = 270) in eight communities (two per intervention type). Focus group discussions (n = 8) solicited residents' perceptions of impact pathways.

Our findings highlight the important contribution of relational and subjective dimensions to HWB and call in to question the dominance of material measures in standard impact appraisals.

Furthermore, we show that single sector and integrated approaches generate ‘polarized impact footprints’ in which integrated approaches achieve (a) more impact, which is (b) more often positive and (c) locally salient, the inverse is true for single-sector sparing style approaches.

Areas of well-being that matter locally (culture, health and social relations), but are not impacted by interventions are relational, and point towards the potential of rights-based conservation to empower rural smallholders to remain in their communities while flourishing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1804-1821
Number of pages18
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number6
Early online date12 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Brazilian Amazon
  • conservation
  • development
  • impact assessment
  • relational values
  • tropical forests

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