Current conservation policies risk accelerating biodiversity loss

Ian Bateman & Andrew Balmford | Nature | 2023 | Communication |


Three approaches that aim to cut the harms of agriculture — land sharing, rewilding and organic farming — risk driving up food imports and causing environmental damage overseas. An alternative approach is both effective and cheaper.

With agriculture the main driver of the habitat loss and degradation that underpin the global biodiversity crisis1, governments worldwide have implemented policies to lessen farming’s impact on the environment. Meanwhile, landowners, organizations interested in the financing of biodiversity conservation and certain non-governmental groups, including conservation bodies, have been pushing for land-use changes that benefit nature.

However, numerous studies show that some of today’s most popular conservation policies are doing little to help those species most affected by farming. What’s more, by reducing how much food is produced per unit area (yield), they are driving up food imports and thereby having an impact on wildlife overseas.