Balancing food production with climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation in the Brazilian Amazon

Ramon Felipe Bicudo da Silva*, James D.A. Millington, Andrés Viña, Yue Dou, Emilio Moran, Mateus Batistella, David M. Lapola, Jianguo Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation are two major environmental actions that need to be effectively performed this century, alongside ensuring food supply for a growing global human population. These three issues are highly interlinked through land management systems. Thus, major global food production regions located in biodiversity hotpots and with potential for carbon sequestration face trade-offs between these valuable land-based ecosystem services. The state of Mato Grosso in Brazil is one such region, where private lands that have been illegally used for agriculture could be restored to natural vegetation – with potential benefits for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation, although with potentially negative effects on food production. To address this challenge, in this study we used a multicriteria nexus modeling approach that considers carbon stocks, priority areas for biodiversity conservation, and the opportunity for food production, to develop scenarios of land allocation that aim to balance the benefits and drawbacks of ecosystem restoration. Results show that forcing landowners to restore their individual lands compromises the potential for a “green land market” throughout the Amazon biome in which private landowners with lower food production capacities (e.g., less connected to markets and infrastructure) would benefit from restoration programs that compensate them for the inclusion of environmental restoration among their economic activities, instead of taking large economic risks to produce more food. We additionally highlight that strategic ecosystem restoration can achieve higher gains in biodiversity and carbon with lower costs of restoration actions and with minimal impacts on agriculture. Analyses like ours demonstrate how scenarios of land allocation that simultaneously address climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation through ecosystem restoration, while also minimizing possible impacts on food production, can be sought to move the world towards a sustainable future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number166681
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the total environment
Early online date4 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023


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