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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Two vital policy aims—biodiversity conservation and food production—are increasingly in conflict. Efforts to evaluate trade-offs between agriculture and conservation have shaped scholarly discourse around two broad strategies to agricultural production that seek to either “share” land with biodiversity or “spare” land from agriculture. However, efforts to negotiate these trade-offs are challenged by rising concern for the welfare of individual animals, both wild and domestic. We use recent efforts to “coexist” with large carnivores to illustrate how sharing and sparing strategies both create tragic, and often unacknowledged trade-offs between livestock production and carnivore conservation. We conclude the best means of conserving carnivores while feeding the world's growing population requires explicitly confronting and adjudicating ethical trade-offs associated with sharing and sparing approaches. To accomplish this, we recommend engaging scholars trained in ethics and social justice and use of deliberative processes to synthesize disparate facts and competing values when evaluating trade-offs.

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© 2021 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Publisher’s version of record:

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Conservation Letters

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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