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Land sharing vs. land sparing for biodiversity: How agricultural markets make the difference


  • Desquilbet, Marion
  • Dorin, Bruno
  • Couvet, Denis


We analyze how intensive versus extensive farming systems affect land use, biodiversity, and welfare when these production systems are compared at market equilibrium rather than for a target production level. As long as demand reacts to prices and extensive farming has higher production costs, extensive farming tends to be more beneficial to biodiversity than intensive farming, except when there is a very high degree of convexity between biodiversity and yield. This beneficial effect holds in a large set of situations even if, in conformity with short-term estimates in the empirical literature, the price elasticity of demand for agricultural products is very low. Extensive farming’s potential benefits for biodiversity must be weighed against higher prices and smaller quantities for consumers, while its effect on agricultural producers is indeterminate. Extensive farming could additionally decrease the agricultural pressure on protected areas by reducing farmers’ incentives to infringe on them. A shift from intensive to extensive farming primarily reduces the agricultural outlet for animal feed, for which price elasticity is higher, while leaving the biofuel outlet almost unchanged due to mandatory blending policies. It has no straightforward effect on food security, as it increases food prices but provides better revenues for poor farmers and better ecosystem services for agriculture and for society.

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  • Desquilbet, Marion & Dorin, Bruno & Couvet, Denis, 2013. "Land sharing vs. land sparing for biodiversity: How agricultural markets make the difference," TSE Working Papers 13-435, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Oct 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:27647

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vanloqueren, Gaëtan & Baret, Philippe V., 2009. "How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 971-983, July.
    2. Phalan, Ben & Balmford, Andrew & Green, Rhys E. & Scharlemann, Jörn P.W., 2011. "Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages 62-71, January.
    3. Phalan, Ben & Balmford, Andrew & Green, Rhys E. & Scharlemann, Jörn P.W., 2011. "Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages 62-71.
    4. Vanloqueren, Gaëtan & Baret, Philippe V., 2008. "Why are ecological, low-input, multi-resistant wheat cultivars slow to develop commercially? A Belgian agricultural 'lock-in' case study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 436-446, June.
    5. Bruno Dorin & Jean Charles Hourcade & Michel Benoit-Cattin, 2013. "A World without Farmers ? The Lewis Path Revisited," CIRED Working Papers hal-00866413, HAL.
    6. Karagiannis, Giannis & Furtan, William Hartley, 2002. "The Effects of Supply Shifts on Producers' Surplus: the Case of Inelastic Linear Supply Curves," Agricultural Economics Review, Greek Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 3(1), January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guy Meunier, 2014. "Land-sparing vs Land-sharing with incomplete policies," Working Papers 2014-05, Alimentation et Sciences Sociales.
    2. Desquilbet, Marion & Maigné, Elise & Monier-Dilhan, Sylvette, 2017. "Organic food retailing and the conventionalization debate," TSE Working Papers 17-778, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

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    conservation; farming; biodiversity; land use; markets; welfare;

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