||The relation between land-use change and the use of biomass for energy and as a raw material, Austria 1950-2020.
This project analyses the relation between socio-economic biomass flows and land use for Austria 1950-2020. A model is established for appraising the status quo, historical trends, and scenarios for 2020. Basis of the model are current and past patterns of land use on the spatial level of municipalities (n=2350) as well as a comprehensive flow model for biomass ranging from domestic extraction of biomass, import, manufacture to final consumption. The model is based on land-use statistics, agricultural and forestry statistics, foreign trade statistics, energy statistics as well as energy, nutrition, feed and timber balances and other statistical sources published by the Austria?s Central Statistical Office.
The project analyses changes during the period of 1950-1995 as well as scenarios for 2020. Research in the historical analysis focuses on the relation between socio-economic metabolism and land-use change, above all, the spatial distribution of cropland, grasslands and forestry. The scenario analysis discusses, above all, possible impacts of different political strategies on land use, evolution of cultural landscapes, and availability of biomass for energy procurement.
The analysis of scenarios for 2020 has shown, among others, that rapeseed can only meet a minuscule proportion of the demand for liquid fuels for transportation forecast for 2020, even if all conceivable areas are used for rapeseed production. Increasing timber harvests would result in a reduction of the potential of forest ecosystems to act as a carbon sink; i.e., to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in living vegetation. According to present calculations the reduction in annual carbon sinks due to increased logging is in the same order of magnitude as the reduction in carbon emissions due to a substitution of the additional biomass harvested for fossil fuels. If substitution of biomass for fossil energy is intended as a climate protection measure it is, therefore, fundamental to check whether (and to what extent) biomass use compromises the ability of terrestrial ecosystems to act as a carbon sink. If, however, biomass that has already been used for another purpose ("cascade utilization of biomass") is re-used to generate energy, this will not contribute to an increase in the "human appropriation of net primary production" (HANPP), and will not reduce terrestrial carbon sink strength.
This project is based on a transdisciplinary team, including social scientist from various disciplines (e.g., economists, sociologists, etc.) as well as ecologists, biologists, and technicians. Planning experts and practitioners are included in the project team for the whole duration of the project.
The project is part of the LUCC-endorsed project No. 33 "Land-Use Change and Socio-Economic Metabolism".