IMAGEIntegrated Model to Assess the Global Environment.

Land-use allocation/Policy issues


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Baseline developments

In a baseline scenario, agricultural area increases at the expense of forest and other natural areas (for instance, PBL, 2012). The land-use allocation model is used to indicate where these changes may occur (see figure below). Thus, it helps to assess the consequence of agricultural expansion and intensification in specific ecosystems.

Distrbution of land systems
Dynamics of land-use expansion and intensification differ across regions.

Policy interventions

The policy interventions that can be analysed are related to either the agricultural economy (Agricultural economy), or they are reflected in the allocation rules used in the land-use allocation module (e.g. more protected areas, REDD+ schemes). In a study using the OECD Environmental Outlook scenario, the model was used to evaluate impacts of protection levels of natural areas: on top of a baseline scenario with strong bioenergy mandates, it was assumed that 20% (Prot20) of 50% (Prot50) of the land area were protected as nature reserves, or that all forest and woodland was protected from agricultural expansion (see figure below). The relative reduction in land use and CO2 emissions differ greatly depending on the type of areas protected. If forests are protected, almost the same amount of agricultural land is used by switching to non-forested land. Thus CO2 emissions are reduced, but reduction in land use and related biodiversity loss is much less.

Carbon emissions and land use under restricted land supply, compared to the baseline scenario, 2020
The effect of additional protected areas on land use and carbon emissions strongly depends on the type of vegetation protected. Preventing forest conversions will reduce carbon emissions, but not necessarily agricultural land use.

Effects of policy interventions on this component

Policy interventionDescriptionEffect
Agricultural trade policies Changes in agricultural trade policies are applied to the corresponding quota (export or import quota) or border taxes. (Reference: Verburg et al., 2009) Due to changed production in agricultural commodities, land use for agriculture within a region will change.
Change in grazing intensity (*) Change in grazing intensity, usually more intensive. This would require better management of grasslands, including for example the use of grass-clover mixtures and fertilisers, bringing the length of the grazing season in tune with the period of grass production, and rotations. More intensive grassland management decrease the area needed for grassland, while producing the same amount of grass and/or feeding the same size of livestock.
Changes in consumption and diet preferences Interventions that target consumption changes or changes in dietary preferences (Reference: Stehfest et al., 2013) Changes in production of agricultural commodities within a region change the land use for agricultural purposes (both total area for agriculture and the ratio of grass to crop area).
Enlarge protected areas (*) Increase in areas with protected status, as well the size of the areas as the numer of parks. (Reference: PBL, 2010) Agriculture is not allowed in protected areas and therefore is allocated at other locations.
Implementation of biofuel targets Policies to enhance the use of biofuels, especially in the transport sector. In the Agricultural economy component only 'first generation' crops are taken into account. The policy is implemented as a budget-neutral policy from government perspective, e.g. a subsidy is implemented to achieve a certain share of biofuels in fuel production and an end-user tax is applied to counterfinance the implemented subsidy. (Reference: Banse et al., 2008) Targets for biofuel production/blending impact agricultural production and consequently land use.
Implementation of land use planning (*) Application of zoning laws or cadastres, assigning areas to certain land uses. Could affect allocation of agriculture, in case agriculture is excluded in some areas.
Increased livestock productivity A change in production characteristics, such as milk production per animal, carcass weight and off-take rates, which will also have an impact on the feed conversion ratio; in general, this will be lower in more productive animals A change in feed crop and grass requirements results in changes in land use, e.g. grasslands and cropping areas.
Intensification/extensification of livestock systems A change in the distribution of the production over pastoral and mixed systems; usually to a larger share of the production in mixed systems, which inherently changes the overall feed conversion ratios of ruminants. An intensification of livestock systems decreases the average area needed per animal (in land using livestock systems)
Reduction of waste/losses Reduction of losses in the agro-food chain and waste after consumption. (Reference: PBL, 2010, PBL, 2012) The reduced need for production decreases the need for agricultural area.
(*) Implemented in this component.