Regional Research in Support of the Second Phase of the High-level Panel on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan
- Matt Rayment, Ravi Sharma
Environmental targets are often used in planning for sustainable agricultural landscapes but their impacts are rarely known. In this paper we introduce landscape futures analysis as a method which combines linear programming optimisation with scenario analysis in quantifying the environmental, economic, and social impacts associated with achieving environmental targets, on a landscape scale. We applied the technique in the Lower Murray in southern Australia. Landscape futures models were used to identify specific geographic locations in the landscape for six natural resource management (NRM) actions such that regional environmental targets are achieved. The six potential NRM actions that may be undertaken to achieve environmental targets include remnant vegetation management, ecological restoration, conservation farming, deep-rooted perennials, and the production of biomass and biofuels feedstock for renewable energy generation. We developed landscape futures under four alternative spatial prioritisation policy options and four future climate and commodity price scenarios. The impacts of each landscape future were calculated across a range of environmental, economic, and social indicators. The external drivers, climate change and commodity prices, and internal decisions such as policy options for spatially prioritising NRM actions, both have a strong influence on the costs and benefits of achieving environmental targets. Illustrative results for the cleared agricultural areas in the Mallee region indicate that whilst achieving targets can have substantial environmental benefits, it requires large areas of land use and land management change, and is likely to be costly (up to $348.5 M per year) with flowon impacts on the regional economy and communities. Environmental targets can be achieved more cost-effectively through spatial planning. Costs can be further reduced if markets are established for carbon, biomass, and biofuels to enable landholders to generate income from undertaking NRM. Landscape futures analysis is an effective tool for supporting the strategic regional NRM policy and planning decisions of how best to set and achieve environmental targets. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.