Agricultural expansion is the greatest driver of the loss of nature and its biodiversity and ecosystem services worldwide. In Africa, this is primarily the expansion of food crops to meet growth in domestic food demand. Further losses are inevitable before the situation stabilises. But they could be greatly reduced by better managing the trade-offs between conserving nature and increasing agricultural production. The much-discussed ‘transformative change’ needed to make this happen will be as much if not more about better governance than improved technology. This briefing explains basic concepts of better trade-off management and identifies four key changes in policy and practice needed to bring this about.