Pathways for agriculture and forestry to contribute to terrestrial biodiversity conservation: A global scenario-study

Marcel T.J. Kok*, Rob Alkemade, Michel Bakkenes, Martha van Eerdt, Jan Janse, Maryia Mandryk, Tom Kram, Tanya Lazarova, Johan Meijer, Mark van Oorschot, Henk Westhoek, Roderick van der Zagt, Maurits van der Berg, Stefan van der Esch, Anne Gerdien Prins, Detlef P. van Vuuren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


If the world stays on its current development path, the state of biodiversity will continue to decline. This is due to projected further increases in pressures, most prominently habitat loss and climate change. In order to reduce these pressures, biodiversity conservation and restoration, as well as sustainable resource use, needs to be an integral part of sustainable development strategies of primary production sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and energy. This paper presents a model-based analysis of three alternative pathways described as Global Technology, Decentralized Solutions and Consumption Change to conserve biodiversity. Each of these pathways pursues international biodiversity goals together with a broader set of environmental sustainability objectives, including feeding the world, universal access to modern energy, limiting climate change and controlling air pollution. We show that different combinations of bio-physical measures, ecosystem management changes and behavioural changes can globally substantially reduce biodiversity loss in the coming decades (avoided Mean Species Abundance (MSA) loss is 4.4–4.8% MSA, compared to 9.5% MSA loss in the Trend), although the types of biodiversity conserved in the pathways will be different. The agricultural and forestry sectors together have until 2010 globally caused almost 60% of the total reduction in terrestrial biodiversity in MSA terms and 55% of the expected loss up to 2050. We show that increased productivity by technological improvements, increased use of ecological methods in agriculture and forestry, and consumption changes help to avoid biodiversity loss by 3.1–3.5% MSA. In addition, combinations of pathways, taking into account specific regional contexts, might result in even larger reduction of biodiversity loss. The changes needed in the agricultural and forestry sector to achieve this go well beyond current efforts to reduce their impact on biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-150
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Agriculture
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Forestry
  • Global scenarios
  • Sustainable development goals (SDGs)
  • Sustainable use

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