How should conservationists respond to pesticides as a driver of biodiversity loss in agroecosystems?

The authors contend that conservationists should be more aware of the effects of pesticide use on biodiversity and seek to reduce use. They recommend that pesticide use be addressed within a larger framework that accounts for negative effects, rather than simply banning certain pesticides that are shown to have unacceptable impacts. The six recommendations the authors make are: 1) revisit the land sparing vs. land sharing debate (whether agricultural production should be intensified to spare land for conservation or agricultural land should include ecosystem benefits to serve partly as conservation land); 2) redefine what intensive means in agriculture and support and fund emerging forms of sustainable agriculture; 3) focus on improved delivery mechanisms, rationalization and efficient, legal use of pesticides; 4) support efforts to reduce wastage and inefficiency in the food system; 5) support the design of resilient temperate and tropical landscapes; and 6) develop comprehensive policy responses. Since research shows that higher yields can be achieved with reduced pesticide use and IPM, the concept of sustainable intensification may provide a way forward. Conservationists should support lower external input, high diversity farming and work to improve policy around pesticide use and identify alternatives to reduce use.

Dudley, N., S.J. Attwood, D. Goulson, D. Jarvis, Z. Pervez Bharucha, and J. Pretty
Biological Conservation
Year published: