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Review on finite land resources and competition

The competition for land is rising due to surging rates of consumption of land-based products as well as the emergence of new, globally important land uses such as the conservation of land as well as the expansion of built-up areas. A new publication led by Helmut Haberl discusses emerging issues related to land competition, including the effect of increased demand for non-provisioning ecosystem services (biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration), urbanization, bioenergy, and teleconnections. This publication is part of a book arising as from a Strüngmann workshop on “Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era”.

Finite Land Resources and Competition


Helmut Haberl, Cheikh Mbow, Xiangzheng Deng, Elena G. Irwin, Suzi Kerr, Tobias Kuemmerle, Ole Mertz, Patrick Meyfroidt, and B. L. Turner II

 

Abstract

Rising demand for land-based products (food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy) as well as conservation of forests and carbon sinks create increasing competition for land. Land use competition has many drivers, takes different forms, and can have many significant implications for ecosystems as well as societal well-being. This chapter discusses several emerging issues, including the effect of increased demand for non-provisioning ecosystem services (biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration), urbanization, bioenergy, and teleconnections. Three major types of land-use competition are discerned: production versus production (e.g., food vs. fuel), production versus conservation (e.g., food production vs. conservation), and built-up environment versus production or conservation (e.g., food vs. urban). Sustainability impacts that result from land-use competition are analyzed and found to differ strongly between the different types of land-use competition. They are associated with important trade-offs and high uncertainty. Institutional aspects related to land-use competition are discussed using a conceptual model that distinguishes types of institutions (government, private, community) as well as their functions (objectives, distribution/ equity, effectiveness/efficiency). Analysis of long-term trajectories suggests that land-use competition is likely to intensify in the medium- to long-term future, mainly in the face of expected scarcities in resource supply (e.g., in terms of limited resources such as fossil fuels), mitigation and adaptation policies related to climate change, as well as climate change impacts and demographic pressures. The chapter concludes with a discussion of major research gaps, and it outlines priority research topics, including the improved analysis of interdependencies of land and energy systems, “ land architecture” (i.e., the significance of spatial configurations), and multiscale models to assess local-global connections and impacts.

 

Reference

Haberl, H., Mbow, C., Deng, X., Irwin, E.G., Kerr, S., Kuemmerle, T., Mertz, O., Meyfroidt, P., and Turner II, B.L. (2014): Finite Land Resources and Competition, 35-69. In Seto, K. C. and Reenberg, A. (2014) Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era. Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 14, J. Lupp, series ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/rethinking-global-land-use-urban-era

This book is the outcome from a Strüngmann Forum workshop on Global Land Use.