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Energy forest development on areas in central-eastern europe, where agricultural prodution is uneconomical - an assessment study (ENERGY FORESTS)


The main aim of this part of the project was to describe a decision support system methodology, which was built on a rigorous land classification methodology and suitability assessment of agricultural areas for biomass production. The task was executed by developing a desktop GIS application, taking into account all available economic and environmental data. The sample area can be found in Hungary, representing 2481 km{2}, which constitutes about 2,7% of the total area of Hungary. It is a transitional zone from the North Hungarian hilly region to the plain Danube-Tisza Interfluve. The biggest town of the area is Hatvan with some 24 700 inhabitants. Land classification was developed in the ArcGIS 8.2 ( environment using ArcView and its Spatial Analyst extension, the geographic datum is WGS84, and the projection system is UTM N34. GIS vector layers are in geo-referenced ArcView shape format, the grid layers are in geo-referenced ESRI grid format, and the images are in geo-referenced tif format. The calculation of the most suitable areas was built on ESRI grids, pixel size was 1 hectare, namely 100 x 100 meters. Based on our investigation, as a rule of thumb, it can be stated that the most suitable areas are located at valleys’ bottoms, along the roads and on low-quality lands.
The methodology for phytoenergetics implementation in artificial areas is a set of knowledge and methods developed or used for case study of ENERGY FOREST project (NNE5-2002-00049). The information included is relevant mostly for artificial areas impacted by open-pit mining under conditions of Central and Eastern Europe. The methodology includes description of regional biomass potential assessment method using GIS data, selection of suitable energy crops, methods for their cultivation on the artificial areas and economical/technological modelling of an optimal setup of processing/conversion facility using pre-existing DSS tool operated by company CRES (Greece). The methodology has been tested in North Bohemian district Chomutov, which is an area of brown-coal open-pit mines, a typical example of such areas in Central and Eastern Europe. The outputs of the application of the methods are mostly recommendations for regional administration, farmers of potential investors in phytoenergetics. The recommendations are supported by GIS maps visualising quantitative spatial results of the biomass potential assessment and optionally by results of economical modelling with expected cash flows for a processing/conversion plant with specified position and capacity within the region under consideration. Suitable crops and cultivation techniques are also described.