NEW PAPER: From synergies to trade-offs in food security and biodiversity conservation


Some time ago, we had invited to participate in a survey on food security and biodiversity conservation on this blog. After some months of data analysis, write-up, rejections and revisions, we now we can announce that the main findings from this survey have been finally published. The paper went online just a few days ago on the journal website and will be published the November issue of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 

And here are the key findings shortly summarized:

(1) When comparing between landscapes we did not find a clear trade-off between food security and biodiversity.

(2) Synergies in food security and biodiversity were related to situations with equitable land access and high social and human capital. Food security was also high when market access was good and financial capital high, but that was linked to poor biodiversity outcomes.

(3) For the future, most experts expected improvements in food security, but losses of biodiversity in their landscapes.

We received responses for landscapes from a wide range of countries. The map shows the origin of the 110 cases that we used for analysis.


You also can directly download a pdf of the full paper and a pdf of the merged appendices here. Enjoy reading!

Finally, a big thanks to all experts that contributed to the survey!

4 thoughts on “NEW PAPER: From synergies to trade-offs in food security and biodiversity conservation

  1. If I’m reading the map correctly – you received NO ‘landscape’ responses from the most developed countries? That wasn’t be design was it? I can’t imagine food security in the West (Global North??) is so robust that some sort of analysis can’t be proffered.

    • Hi Clem, yes we did not include responses from the richest countries in the analysis (there were a few, but not too many). This was because these cases were mainly about malnutrition leading to, for example, obesity. We had decided to focus more strongly on undernourishment, which mainly is a problem in the poorer countries.

      • Hi Jan (and Clem!) I’d say that the scale of the undernourishment problem is certainly larger in poorer countries; but at the same time, we have precious little information about the richest countries, who don’t generally keep close track of undernutrition. (It is often claimed to be ~0%, but several European researchers have told me that there isn’t official data collection in many countries around undernutrition, so I take that number with a grain of salt.) In the US, of course, about 12.5% of our citizens live in households with at least one member of the family at risk of food insecurity; 5% of our citizens live in households where at least one member has gone hungry at least once over a year. Given the size of my home country, that is about 16 to 39 million people with potentially low food security. Again, a different scale & depth than many poorer countries, but I guess my overall point is that we actually know pitifully little about food status in rich countries, particularly amongst marginalized groups such as refugees.

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