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Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

Henrik Smith


Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

Sparing land for biodiversity at multiple spatial scales


  • Johan Ekroos
  • Anja Ödman
  • Georg Andersson
  • Klaus Birkhofer
  • Lina Herbertsson
  • Björn Klatt
  • Ola Olsson
  • Pål Axel Olsson
  • Anna Persson
  • Honor C Prentice
  • Maj Rundlöf
  • Henrik Smith

Summary, in English

A common approach to the conservation of farmland biodiversity and the promotion of multifunctional landscapes, particularly in landscapes containing only small remnants of non-crop habitats, has been to maintain landscape heterogeneity and reduce land-use intensity. In contrast, it has recently been shown that devoting specific areas of non-crop habitats to conservation, segregated from high-yielding farmland (“land sparing”), can more effectively conserve biodiversity than promoting low-yielding, less intensively managed farmland occupying larger areas (“land sharing”). In the present paper we suggest that the debate over the relative merits of land sparing or land sharing is partly blurred by the differing spatial scales at which it is suggested that land sparing should be applied. We argue that there is no single correct spatial scale for segregating biodiversity protection and commodity production in multifunctional landscapes. Instead we propose an alternative conceptual construct, which we call “multiple-scale land sparing,” targeting biodiversity and ecosystem services in transformed landscapes. We discuss how multiple-scale land sparing may overcome the apparent dichotomy between land sharing and land sparing and help to find acceptable compromises that conserve biodiversity and landscape multifunctionality.


  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • Biodiversity
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science
  • Plant Biology

Publishing year





Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution



Document type

Journal article


Frontiers Media S. A.


  • Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use




  • Rural development through governance of multifunctional agricultural land-use

Research group

  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science
  • Plant Biology


  • ISSN: 2296-701X