Repository logo

Characterising the spatial distribution of opportunities and constraints for land sparing in Brazil.

Published version



Change log


Dos Santos, Juliana Silveira 
Feltran-Barbieri, Rafael 
Fonte, Ellen S 
Balmford, Andrew 
Maioli, Veronica 


Brazil is a megadiversity country with more tropical forest than any other, and is a leading agricultural producer. The technical potential to reconcile these roles by concentrating agriculture on existing farmland and sparing land for nature is well-established, but the spatial overlap of this potential with conservation priorities and institutional constraints remains poorly understood. We mapped conservation priorities, food production potential and socio-economic variables likely to influence the success of land sparing. Pasture occupies 70% of agricultural land but contributes ≤11% of the domestic food supply. Increasing yields on pasture would add little to Brazil's food supply but - if combined with concerted conservation and restoration policies - provides the greatest opportunities for reducing land demand. Our study illustrates a method for identifying municipalities where land-sparing policies are most likely to succeed, and those where further effort is needed to overcome constraints such as land tenure insecurity, lack of access to technical advice, labour constraints, and non-compliance with environmental law.



Journal Title

Scientific reports

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title