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The challenge of feeding the world while conserving half the planet

Nature Sustainabilityvolume 1pages409412 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Amid widespread concerns about biodiversity loss, a single clear conservation message is engaging leading conservationists: the proposal to give half the surface of the Earth back to nature. Depending on the landscape conservation strategy, we find that, globally, 15–31% of cropland, 10–45% of pasture land, 23–25% of non-food calories and 3–29% of food calories from crops could be lost if half of Earth’s terrestrial ecoregions were given back to nature.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant and a Genome Canada/Genome BC grant (to N.R.).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. The UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    • Zia Mehrabi
    •  & Navin Ramankutty
  2. Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    • Zia Mehrabi
    •  & Navin Ramankutty
  3. Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

    • Erle C. Ellis

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Contributions

Z.M., E.C.E. and N.R. designed the analyses. Z.M. compiled the data and conducted the analyses. Z.M. wrote the paper with input from E.C.E. and N.R.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zia Mehrabi.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes 1, 2, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Figures 1–4, Supplementary References 1–24

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https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-018-0119-8

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