Ecological Intensification: Bridging the Gap between Science and Practice

D. Kleijn*, Riccardo Bommarco, T.P.M. Fijen, Lucas A. Garibaldi, Simon Potts, W.H. van der Putten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

337 Citations (Scopus)


There is worldwide concern about the environmental costs of conventional intensification of agriculture. Growing evidence suggests that ecological intensification of mainstream farming can safeguard food production, with accompanying environmental benefits; however, the approach is rarely adopted by farmers. Our review of the evidence for replacing external inputs with ecosystem services shows that scientists tend to focus on processes (e.g., pollination) rather than outcomes (e.g., profits), and express benefits at spatio-temporal scales that are not always relevant to farmers. This results in mismatches in perceived benefits of ecological intensification between scientists and farmers, which hinders its uptake. We provide recommendations for overcoming these mismatches and highlight important additional factors driving uptake of nature-based management practices, such as social acceptability of farming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-166
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • agricultural production
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem services
  • farmer behaviour


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