Impact on global biodiversity of agricultural development

Humans are likely to require at least twice as much agricultural produce in 2050 as they do now.

RSPB's Hope farm, at the time of the wheat harvest, Knapwell, Cambridgeshire, England


Agricultural development is already the largest threat to bird species worldwide. 

One set of solutions involves modifying farming methods so they allow more species to tolerate farmed landscapes. Another set involves producing as much as possible from farmed landscapes and devising economic mechanisms so this reduces pressure on unfarmed natural habitats, which can therefore cover a larger area. These approaches conflict. Research can discover which is best for a particular area or set of species.


  • To quantify the trade-offs between land-sparing and wildlife-friendly farming strategies in real-world situations.

Planned Work

Two case studies to establish the types of farming that would allow most species to persist are under way in Ghana and northern India.  These should be completed in 2009.


  • Scientific papers


Published in: Global Change Biology. Vol. 11, Pages 1594-1605.  Date: 3 January 2005. PDF, 168Kb

Sparing land for nature: exploring the potential impact of changes in agricultural yield on the area needed for crop production.


Coast on a stormy day

Prof Rhys Green

Professor of Conservation Science, Conservation Science
Tagged with: Country: UK Country: International Habitat: Farmland Project status: Ongoing Project types: Site protection