November 20, 2015

A survey on food security and biodiversity conservation

Jan Hanspach, Leuphana University Lueneburg

Landscape experts: we need your help.

We are currently working on the development of a global theory that explains which characteristics of social-ecological systems benefit both biodiversity conservation and food security. Among other project components, we have designed a questionnaire that asks experts to share their insights on a specific landscape that they understand well. We need as many qualified people as possible to fill out this questionnaire – so please complete it and share this blog post widely within relevant networks!

Editor’s Note: This post and questionnaire was originally published on the Ideas for Sustainability Blog on November 18, 2015. It is re-published here with permission. 


What makes a landscape biologically diverse and its people food secure? We want to answer this question by collecting social-ecological characteristics of farming landscapes through this questionnaire. Photo by Neil Collier on Flores/Indonesia.

What is covered by the questionnaire?

The questionnaire consists of four main sections. All of them require the person completing it to think of one specific focal landscape that they are familiar with. The first section asks for a short characterisation of the focal landscape and for a self-assessment of the respondent’s expertise in relation to that landscape. The second section covers the degree of food insecurity in the focal landscape. The third section asks about biodiversity values and conservation issues. The final section covers a wide range of social-ecological system characteristics of the focal landscape.

Who can complete the questionnaire?

Everybody who knows a landscape well and is familiar with issues related to food security and/or biodiversity conservation in that very same landscape can complete the questionnaire. It is not necessary to be an academic or a researcher, but it is important to have relevant local expertise (e.g. as a conservation practitioner, development agent, or NGO worker).

What do we mean by a “landscape”?

We define a landscape as an area measuring tens to thousands of square kilometres, which is characterised by repeated patterns of settlements and different land use types (e.g. fields, pastures, forests). Usually, a landscape is characterised by some unifying features. Such features could be biophysical characteristics (e.g. the landscape could be a particular mountain range or a river delta) but also socio-political characteristics (e.g. a shared history, administrative unit, or ethnic composition). The only two requirements that we have for such landscapes are (1) that the main land use should be some sort of farming (agriculture or livestock grazing); and (2) that its inhabitants should be at least potentially food insecure. We appreciate that urban areas are interesting, and that food systems in wealthy nations also require attention – but our focus is primarily on rural areas in economically less developed countries.

What can you do?

1) Fill in the questionnaire, using the link below.

2) Widely distribute the questionnaire to your friends and colleagues, and through any relevant networks you might be aware of. Feel free to re-blog this post, or share it any other way you like!

Ready to go?

The questionnaire can be found here:
and the password (“TAN/Losung”) is: foodbiodiv

The questionnaire comprises a total of 85 questions. Based on our experience, the expected time to complete it is between 25 and 35 minutes.

We really appreciate your support and are looking forward to being able to present our findings on the blog here (hopefully next year). The more people help to distribute this, and fill it out, the more useful it will be! Thank you!

Read more

This post was originally published on November 18th, 2015 on the Ideas for Sustainability Blog.

Jan Hanspach is an ecologist with university training in plant and animal ecology, nature conservation and soil sciences. He actively contributes to Ideas for Sustainability, a blog moderated by Professor Joern Fischer (Leuphana University Lüneburg) to share exciting new ideas on issues of sustainability and global change.
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