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Increasing food production and mitigating climate change are two primary but seemingly contradictory objectives for tropical landscapes. This special feature examines synergies and trade-offs among these objectives. Four themes emerge from the papers: the important roles of both forest and agriculture sectors for climate mitigation in tropical countries; the minor contribution from deforestation-related agricultural expansion to overall food production at global and continental scales; the opportunities for synergies between improved food production and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through diversion of agricultural expansion to already-cleared lands, improved soil, crop, and livestock management, and agroforestry; and the need for targeted policy and management interventions to make these synergistic opportunities a reality. We conclude that agricultural intensification is a key factor to meet dual objectives of food production and climate mitigation, but there is no single panacea for balancing these objectives in all tropical landscapes. Place-specific strategies for sustainable land use emerge from assessments of current land use, demographics, and other biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics, using a whole-landscape, multisector perspective.