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Towards optimal land use

An EU team considered the question of land-use optimisation. The study compared private economic interests against public, yielding a new framework supporting the making of environmental decisions and policies.
Towards optimal land use
The question of how to optimise land use affects both economics and natural resource management. The issue trades off public and private interests.

With EU funding, the LUCES (Land use change, environment and society: An integrated framework for economic assessment) project developed an integrated decision-making and policy framework. The innovation helped economically compare trade-offs among agriculture, land-use change and environmental impacts. The study addressed several integrated aspects, including: production and profits, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, open-space recreational opportunities and agricultural river pollution.

The framework was structurally explicit. Researchers originally intended to model the Humber basin in the north-east of England. However, the team obtained additional data that exceeded the planned scope. The final subject area covered the whole of Britain, or 10 times that proposed in the project agreement.

LUCES demonstrated how stakeholders could use the framework. The consortium developed a series of analyses, addressing policy-relevant issues. The group selected three such analyses to showcase the work. The list included: environmental impact of climate change adaptation, valuation of environmental benefits of land use and the value of travel time. Each analysis was published in significant journals.

Models also provided a basis for other policy-relevant research. For example, a study commissioned by the British Parliament analysed the cultural and economic value of nature in Britain. The study also developed methods to assist decision-makers wishing to apply an ecosystem services approach.

The project's framework for decision-making and analysis helped assess the main causes and effects of land-use change. The framework allowed for the assessment of effects, including greenhouse emissions, water quality and changes to recreational values.

Related information

Keywords

Land use, environment, natural resource, LUCES, agriculture
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