Intensive high-yield farms could leave greater space for rewilding and biodiversity, study says

A decade-long study finds ‘land sparing’ is more effective than pursuing wildlife-friendly agriculture, as Harry Cockburn explains

Wednesday 06 October 2021 19:10
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<p>Circular fields on farms in Ukraine. ‘Patchworks of nature’ alongside high-yield farming areas will help biodiversity flourish, researchers say</p>

Circular fields on farms in Ukraine. ‘Patchworks of nature’ alongside high-yield farming areas will help biodiversity flourish, researchers say

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Farmers are under increasing pressure to allow greater levels of biodiversity on their land, but new research suggests that a better approach may instead be to concentrate high-yield farms within smaller areas, allowing “much more” land to be rewilded while still meeting future food targets.

Based on over a decade of research by academics at the University of Cambridge, the study suggests most species would fare better under a “land sparing” approach, than if farmers try to share land with nature.

Wildlife-friendly agriculture still damages most biodiversity and requires far more land to produce the same amount of food,” the researchers said.

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