2nd Edition

Nature's Matrix Linking Agriculture, Biodiversity Conservation and Food Sovereignty

    316 Pages 63 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    316 Pages 63 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    When first published in 2009, Nature’s Matrix set out a radical new approach to the conservation of biodiversity. This new edition pushes the frontier of the biodiversity/agriculture debate further, making an even stronger case for the need to transform agriculture and support small- and medium-scale agroecology and food sovereignty.

    In the first edition, the authors set out a radical new approach to the conservation of biodiversity. This is based on the concept of a landscape as a matrix of diverse, small-scale agricultural ecosystems, providing opportunities to enhance conservation under the stewardship of local farmers. This contrasts with the alternative view of industrial-scale farms and large protected areas which exclude local people. However, since then the debate around conservation and agriculture has developed significantly and this is reflected in this updated second edition. The text is thoroughly revised, including:

    • a reorganization of chapters with new and timely topics introduced,
    • updates to the discussion of agroecology and food sovereignty, bringing it in line with the current debates,
    • greater coverage of the role of agroecology, in particular agroforestry, as an important component of climate change adaptation and mitigation, highlighting recent studies on the role of intensive agriculture in climate change and loss of biodiversity, and
    • more attention given to the discussion of land sparing versus land sharing.

    By integrating the ecological aspects of agriculture and conservation biology, with a political and social analysis as well as historical perspective, the book continues to set a progressive agenda and appeals to a wide range of students and professionals.

      1. Matrix Matters: An Overview

      2. The Ecological Background

      3. Ecological Theory and Political Realities

      4. Historical Patterns in Agriculture

      5. Alternatives to the Industrial Model

      6. The Broad Social Context – Theoretical Considerations

      7. The Broad Social Context – Practice

      8. Coffee Production and Biodiversity Conservation

      9. Cacao and Biodiversity: The Historical Development of a Biodiversity Landscape

      10. The Production of Food and the Biodiversity Connection

      11. The New Paradigm



      Ivette Perfecto is George W. Pack Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, USA.

      John Vandermeer is Asa Gray Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, USA.

      Angus Wright is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies, California State University, USA.

      "This is the best and clearest treatment available that explains biodiversity conservation, agriculture, landscapes, agroecology and movement politics. And it does so in an easy to read and easy to understand style. A must read!" - Peter Rosset, Professor of Agroecology, ECOSUR, Mexico

      "As today’s threats of catastrophic biodiversity loss and increased human suffering mount, we have seen ever-more proposals in scientific literature and popular media seeking to superficially solve these problems. In contrast, Perfecto, Vandermeer, and Wright follow in the footsteps of all great revolutionary thinkers by asking us to confront these problems’ deepest roots in all their complexity. This second edition of their classic work therefore does one better than the old saw, 'Those who do not learn history are destined to repeat it.' Nature’s Matrix shows us as well that those who do not understand agroecology and food sovereignty are destined to recreate injustices against both people and nature. Luckily, Nature’s Matrix shows us that, by taking allyship with social movements seriously, we can move the arc of history towards justice and sustainability for all of earth's inhabitants." - M. Jahi Chappell, Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience, Coventry University, UK

      "Nature’s Matrix delves deep into the ecological, social, and political factors that drive biodiversity conservation in the tropics. The authors use both theory and case studies to successfully argue for the integration of agroecology, landscape ecology, and social justice for peasant farmers as necessary components for meeting conservation goals." - Stacy Philpott, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

      "This powerfully written and accessible book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of our global food system and its capacity to support both food sovereignty and biodiversity. This new edition provides critical evidence that landscapes that support an agricultural matrix based on principles of social and ecological justice are the only way to sustainably feed the future." - Hannah Wittman, Professor and Director, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Canada

      Praise for the first edition

      "This well written book is informed by sophisticated ecological theory applied to the complexities of modern tropical development in a dazzling critique of conventional thinking." – Susanna Hecht, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and author of Fate of the Forest.

      "Greens of every stripe – agro-ecologists, conservationists, regional planners – recognize the need for ecologically farmed areas, an empowered farm population, preserved areas in any sustainable, just and productive mosaic landscape. We all advocate this integration. This book does it." Richard Levins, Professor of Population Sciences at Harvard University, USA, and author of The Dialectical Biologist and Biology Under the Influence.

      "As the authors demonstrate in this ground-breaking book, traditional agroecosystems not only offer promising models for other areas as they promote biodiversity, thrive without agrochemicals, and sustain year-round yields but are key for food sovereignty and the conservation of millions of wild species as they promote high quality matrices." Miguel Altieri, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and author of Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture.