Title: Land allocation and suitability analysis for the production of food, feed and energy crops in the period 2010 - 2050 EU Reference Scenario 2013 LUISA platform – Updated Configuration 2014
Publisher: European Commission
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC98567
ISBN: 978-92-79-53914-5
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 27018
OP LB-1A-27018-EN-N
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC98567
DOI: 10.2788/93483
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Since land is a finite resource, the competition for land among different uses has become a real problem. Competition for land takes place when different alternative uses (such as agriculture, forestry, energy or/and natural conservation) are competing for the same piece of land. When the competition for land is highly intense in a given territory, a specific land use/cover might cause the displacement of another one, leading to land-use conversion and, potential negative environmental, economic and social impacts. In the long term, this exacerbated competition might increase the pressure on the land and the impacts on the land capacity to support ecosystems and productive systems. Methodologies and tools to assess the potential impacts of bioenergy development in the EU on land uses and functions provide useful insight to shed light on the environmental impacts of energy policies. The territorial assessment carried out by the Land Use-based Sustainability Assessment (LUISA) modelling platform highlights where in Europe the current macro-economic trends and energy policy targets might pose a threat to our land resources in the mid to long term. This might happen, for instance, in regions where the demand for energy crops and the need for residential and industry/commerce/services functions, is forecasted to increase. Essential land uses, such as agriculture for food and feed production, could therefore be transferred to less suitable lands at a regional or local scale. The herein report explores in detail the land uses that are expected to be in direct competition for land (food, feed and energy) as a result of the EU bioenergy targets and considering the suitability characteristics of the land for these uses. The analysis is carried out per main crop group (cereals, maize, root crops, other arable crops and energy crops), as simulated by the LUISA modelling platform. The results presented highlight where and how the displacement of food and feed crops from highly suitable land to lower levels of suitability can be caused by different drivers, among which the expansion of built-up areas and dedicated energy crops. In summary, the majority of cereal, maize and root crops in Europe are allocated on land classified as highly suitable (according to local biophysical conditions, possible fertiliser input and current cropping patterns) between 2020 and 2050. However, the amount of land cultivated with food crops (cereal, maize and root crop production) is shown to experience a substantial decrease in the majority of the MSs, on average higher than 10% across the entire simulation period. On the opposite, energy crop production increases at fast pace, at times doubling the amount of allocated land from the year 2020, when they first appears in the modelling, to 2050. Due to the growth of residential and ICS (industry, commercial and services) sites, land highly suitable for the cultivation of food crops and non-food crops is increasingly being used for artificial uses. In general terms, growing crops on highly suitable land results in a cost reduction associated to inputs use, such as fertilizers, pesticides and water. However, as result of the competition, there is – in several areas in Europa - an increasing shift towards low quality land for growing food and feed crops, with environmental and economic impacts to be carefully evaluated.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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