University of Sussex
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Deliberative-analytic approaches to Ecosystem Services as a way forward for the land sparing/sharing debate

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-10, 02:47 authored by Rachael DurrantRachael Durrant, Adrian ElyAdrian Ely
Growing concerns about the impacts of food systems have led to fierce debate over the pros and cons of different modes of production. In parallel, conservationists have debated “land-sparing” versus “land-sharing” as competing rationales for a land use policy that aims to halt biodiversity loss. As a contribution to these debates, we share research conducted in the South-East of England where contrasting practices for managing land and livestock coexist in close proximity and approximate a land -sparing versus -sharing gradient. The research used an Ecosystem Services (ES) framework to explore the social, ecological and health outcomes of these practices, as understood from different perspectives. In this paper we analyse and interpret both qualitative and quantitative data generated through a participatory deliberative appraisal exercise that formed part of the research. Despite demonstrating the relevance of ES for appraising land use and management practices, we uncover a lack of sensitivity of conventional ES frameworks to the specific concerns, priorities and ambiguities of agroecological practices; an inability to encompass multiple scales and localities; limitations to incorporating site-specific considerations; and a polarising effect on the perspectives of conservationists and farmers. We conclude by offering an approach that may help to bridge between divergent perspectives and engage both on their own terms.


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  • Published

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  • Accepted version


Land Use Policy







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  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

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