Conceptualizing pathways to sustainable agricultural intensification

Helfenstein, Julian; Diogo, Vasco; Bürgi, Matthias; Verburg, Peter; Swart, Rebecca; Mohr, Franziska; Debonne, Niels; Levers, Christian; Herzog, Felix (2020). Conceptualizing pathways to sustainable agricultural intensification. In: Bohan, David A.; Vanbergen, Adam J. (eds.) The Future of Agricultural Landscapes, Part I. Advances in Ecological Research: Vol. 63 (pp. 161-192). Elsevier 10.1016/bs.aecr.2020.08.005

[img] Text
AdvancesinEcologicalResearcH_Helfenstein_2020.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (808kB) | Request a copy

There is widespread consensus among scientists, policy makers, and practitioners that agriculture should become more sustainable, while maintaining the ability to meet future food demand. However, there are still many diverging views on what sustainable intensification means, and how to get there. In this article, we present a conceptual framework to navigate agricultural intensification pathways. The conceptual framework aligns three research themes central to improving the sustainability of agriculture: (1) What are the social, economic, and environmental trade-offs of alternative agricultural intensification options? (2) How do land managers decide on intensification strategies, and how can the adoption of sustainable practices be made more attractive? (3) How do socio-political, technological, and environmental mega-trends and other drivers of change affect sustainable intensification measures and agricultural landscapes? The framework presented here goes beyond earlier frameworks by considering multiple dimensions of intensity and sustainability, drawing from both natural and social science theories. Also, it operates across spatial and temporal scales, and is outcome-focused while explicitly considering the linkages between decision making processes and sustainability outcomes. We argue that given these novelties the conceptual framework can serve as a blueprint to assess pathways towards sustainable agricultural intensification.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability > Unit Land Systems and Sustainable Land Management (LS-SLM)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Bürgi, Matthias


900 History > 910 Geography & travel






Advances in Ecological Research






Roman Marc Aschinger

Date Deposited:

05 Mar 2021 13:48

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:47

Publisher DOI:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback