Competition between Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation
The competition between human needs for land for agriculture to meet our requirements for food and our desire to live in a biologically diverse environment has been an issue that has often been avoided. We all need to eat and we (mostly) appreciate the aesthetic value if not always the survival value of biodiversity. The conflict between these two key human drivers is not resolved unless we understand the competition between these worthy objectives at the level of competition for space on a planet that is increasingly crowded by human activities. The emergence of energy as another competitor in this space might help to focus us more on resolving the central issues of balancing the immediate day-to-day needs of humans and their aspirations for long-term survival on earth. This chapter will examine the competing needs of growing demand for agricultural products and the need for biodiversity conservation. We can and do make active decisions to limit our agriculture and to conserve areas for biodiversity. Japan provides an important example of a large population in a developed country that has retained a very high proportion of the country (more than 70 per cent) as forest. This has been the result of long-term policies. The consequences for the environment and biodiversity have been very positive, but Japan imports much of its food.