Synergies between nature conservation and climate protection in the area of land use
Agriculture and land use changes contribute to a relevant degree to global warming and causing almost a quarter of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time agriculture has a significant impact on nature conservation aspects such as biodiversity. About 50 % of all European animal and plant species depend on agricultural habitats. The main reasons for the loss of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape in recent decades are the intensification of agricultural land use and land use changes (e.g. urban sprawl, conversion of grassland).
The National Biomass Action Plan is an important instrument for climate mitigation with great influence on land use. However, it has several direct negative side effects on biodiversity (e.g. conversion of grassland or the shorter crop rotation by growing maize as a substrate for biogas digester). In addition, the additional demand for biogenic raw materials and the scarcity of agricultural land lead to an intensification on the remaining area (cf. rising rents for agricultural land) and possibly to the cultivation of new areas (indirect land use change (ILUC).
The current climate and nature protection policy seems so far little coordinated. Consequently, as shown by the example of the promotion of renewable resources, there are a number of conflicts between climate protection and nature conservation objectives. Sustainable land use systems can protect the climate (e.g. sink function, emission reduction, replacement of fossil fuels) and provide nature conservancy values (e.g. higher species richness on extensively used areas, improved erosion and water pollution control under perennial soil cover).
Background and Objective
In this project current effects of political instruments, e.g. incentives and regulatory, are evaluated regarding their impact on nature conservation and climate protection. The focus is on instruments supporting an ecologically sound land use. Apart from currently implemted measures, innovative approaches are considered. Finally, recommendations are formulated for further developing political instruments which allow an improved co-ordination of sectoral policies with regard to nature conservation and climate protection.
With the help empirical social science methods, the project design and the quantitative results will be discussed with experts and evaluated. This will be carried out with the help of expert workshop and a Delphi survey.
In the quantitative data analysis the effects of individual policy instruments on nature conservation and the climate mitigation will be estimated. For this data from the agricultural statistics and GIS data on land use and site conditions are analyzed. This allows us to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of different land management related mitigation measures with respect to climate mitigation and nature conservation impacts.
Data and Methods
Modelling, Delphi-Assessment, Literature review
The target for the use of biomass as source of energy - derived from the climate protection targets – results in area demands that are difficult to meet at the national level. This demand for energy, coupled with an ongoing demand for food, feed and feed results in a high pressure on land use. This pressure faces an increasing demand for environmental and conservation services from farmland. Therefore, the main criteria for the recommendations are the area efficiency (mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHG) per ha and the cost efficiency.
The quantitative assessment of policy scenarios with RAUMIS clearly shows that the realization of climate protection goals with land use related measures will induce a significant land demand. The best way to limit this demand is the selection of very area efficient mitigation measures. In the calculated scenarios, this was particularly the restoration of carbon-rich soils (peat soils). Short rotation coppices (SRC) are less area efficient but are also very cost efficient. Energy maize for biogas production has only a limited potential as the mitigation costs are fairly high. The evaluation for liquid fuels on the basis of domestic rapeseed, wheat and sugar beet is even worse than energy maize.
In order to achieve synergies between climate protection and nature conservation in land management the following principles should apply:
The combination of effective natural and mitigation measures in agriculture on the basis of area and cost efficiency reduces from the beginning the need for further consideration of these objectives. Peatland protection is particularly suitable as well it both cost and area efficient with respect to climate mitigation targets as major concern for nature conservation.
In the agricultural sector exists a set of effective climate mitigation measures low mitigation and without inducing any land demand. One prominent measure of this set is the increase in the nitrogen efficiency of fertilization by reducing emissions from the storage and spreading of manure. This measure has positive effects for climate mitigation and nature conservation. Furthermore, the given potential for the use of agricultural residues in biogas production is still not exploited. A real incentive to use these substances (including material from land care) combined with lower remuneration of renewable resources from arable land could make a positive contribution.
Involved external Thünen-Partners
- Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.
- Projektbüro MAREG
Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
10.2011 - 11.2014
Project funding number: UFOPLAN 2011, FKZ 3511 88 0200
Project status: finished
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