Podcast: Land sharing or sparing

Biological Sciences Research: Dr Tracie McKinney

Coffee berry farm, Brazil - Research

Bird communities live within within Brazilian coffee plantation: Getty Images

Two contrasting strategies for conserving biological diversity

Hello and welcome to Sixty Seconds Spotlight. I’m Dr Tracie McKinney, a biological anthropologist at the University of South Wales. My research focuses on primates like monkeys, apes, and lemurs, and how these animals interact with humans and human-altered landscapes.

The amazing animals that I study are in trouble.  About 60 per cent of non-human primate species are threatened with extinction, so conservation is a big issue for primatologists. 

There are a lot of different strategies for conserving endangered species.  One major division is between what is sometimes called “land sparing” and “land sharing” approaches. 

“Land sparing” is a more traditional conservation approach in which land is reserved for wildlife, and humans are excluded.  Wildlife reserves are a good example of this strategy.  However, there are sometimes practical and ethical issues with focusing only on wildlife, and not on the people who make their livelihoods from these landscapes.

“Land sharing” strategies work to conserve wildlife within human-altered environments.  This can be conservation of urban wildlife, for example, or working on ways to make farms or other landscapes more habitable for wildlife.  In this case, we recognize that animals live in a modified environment, but we still work to protect them in those spaces in the best way we can.

Both land sparing and land sharing approaches are vital for wildlife conservation.  While we want to preserve as many wild spaces as possible, we must recognise that many animals share space with humans, and we need to do our best to care for both the animals and the people who live in those landscapes.

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About Dr Tracie McKinney

Dr Tracie McKinney

Dr Tracie McKinney is a biological anthropologist at the University of South Wales with expertise in nonhuman primate responses to anthropogenic disturbance.

She is particularly interested in how wild primates deal with human disturbance, including habitat alteration, ecotourism, provisioning, and crop-raiding. 

Dr McKinney's field research focuses on mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata) and white-faced capuchins (Cebus imitator) in Costa Rica. She teaches on the biological sciences courses at USW.

You can see Dr Tracie McKinney's research outputs here

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