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Declining trends in human appropriation of NPP over Europe

A new paper by Simone Gingrich and co-authors in Land Use Policy shows that Human Appropriation of NPP (HANPP) has declined during the 20th century across Europe. Using a comprehensive set of land use datasets from nine countries, the paper also shows that the starkly contrasting institutional and economic paradigms, with communism on the one hand and capitalism on the other, did not influence HANPP trajectories strongly - highlighting the importance of population and technological change as drivers of land management.


Exploring long-term trends in land use change and abovegroundhuman appropriation of net primary production in nine Europeancountries


Simone Gingrich | Maria Niedertscheider | Thomas Kastner | Helmut Haberl | Georgia Cosor | Fridolin Krausmann | Tobias Kuemmerle | Daniel Müller | Annabella Reith-Musel | Martin Rudbeck Jepsen | Angheluta Vadineanu | Karl-Heinz Erb

 

Profound changes in land use occurred during the last century in Europe, driven by growing popula-tion, changes in affluence, and technological innovation. To capture and understand these changes, wecompiled a consistent dataset on the distribution of land-use types and biomass extraction for nine Euro-pean countries (Albania, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, and theUnited Kingdom) since the late 19th to early 20th century, when national statistical publications becameavailable. We then calculated a range of indicators within the “human appropriation of net primary pro-duction” (HANPP) framework for the nine countries and for the sum of all countries on a yearly basis from1902 to 2003. We find that cropland and grazing land contracted in all countries except Albania in theobserved period, while forestland increased. Crop yields increased in all countries, most strongly duringthe second half of the 20th century. In some countries, biomass extraction on grazing lands increased toa similar extent. Overall, HANPP was high but declined slightly from 63% of the net primary productionof potential vegetation in 1902 to 55% in 2003. This is the result of increasing crop yields on shrinkingcropland and grazing land, which was only partly offset by increasing biomass extraction on expand-ing forests and by expanding settlement areas. HANPP trends on croplands were mostly uniform acrosscountries, but differed substantially on grazing lands. While political differences, e.g., between commu-nist and capitalist countries, did not directly affect HANPP dynamics, economic and population growthwere related to increases in biomass extraction for long periods of time in much of the sample, and onlyin recent decades did the collapse of the Eastern Block’s Comecon market, EU agricultural policy, andworld market developments coincide with a stagnation of biomass extraction.

 

Link to the manuscript: DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.04.027

Citation: Gingrich, S., Niedertscheider, M., Kastner, T., Haberl, H., Cosor, G., Krausmann, F., Kuemmerle, T., Müller, D., Reith-Musel, A., Rudbeck Jepsen, M., Vadineanu, & Erb, K.H. (2015): Exploring long-term trends in land use change and aboveground Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production in Europe.  Land Use Policy, 47, 426–438.