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The challenge of feeding the world while conserving half the planet


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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Fig. 1: Feeding the world under a global deal for nature.
Fig. 2: Maps of calorie losses under each Half-Earth scenario.

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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.).

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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.

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Correspondence to Zia Mehrabi.

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

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Mehrabi, Z., Ellis, E.C. & Ramankutty, N. The challenge of feeding the world while conserving half the planet. Nat Sustain 1, 409–412 (2018).

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