Global and regional health and food security under strict conservation scenarios

Roslyn C. Henry*, Almut Arneth, Martin Jung, Sam S. Rabin, Mark D. Rounsevell, Frances Warren, Peter Alexander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Global biodiversity is rapidly declining, and goals to halt biodiversity loss, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, have not been achieved. To avoid further biodiversity loss, area-based protection will form part of new biodiversity targets. We use a state-of-the-art global land-use model, the Land System Modular Model, to explore global and regional human health and food security outcomes under strictly enforced 30% and 50% land protection scenarios. We find protection scenarios cause additional human mortality due to diet- and weight-related changes. Low-income regions such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa experience the highest levels of underweight-related mortality, causing an additional 200,000 deaths related to malnutrition in these regions alone. High-income regions, by contrast, are less affected by protection measures. Our results highlight that radical measures to protect areas of biodiversity value may jeopardize food security and human health in the most vulnerable regions of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages7
JournalNature Sustainability
Early online date3 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R.C.H., F.W. and P.A. were supported by the UK’s Global Food Security Programme project Resilience of the UK food system to Global Shocks (RUGS, BB/N020707/1). M.J. acknowledges funding from the Nature Map project through Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI). A.A. and M.D.R. acknowledge support through the Helmholtz Association. S.S.R. acknowledges support by the BMBF Germany/ISIPEDIA project. We thank P. Visconti for cross reading the manuscript and contributing to the discussion of the results.

Data Availability Statement

The LandSyMM output data used in this study are available through Zenodo ( Food consumption data were accessed through FAOSTAT (;. BMI data were accessed through the WHO global health observatory database ( Disease and mortality data were accessed through the global health data exchange ( LandSyMM model code is available on request from the authors.


  • conservation biology
  • Risk Factors
  • sustainability


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