Stream: Ressource management and Sustainability


F1. Land-use and land-cover modelling: dealing with complexity
Daniel Rutledge, Guy Engelen, Alexander Herzig, Jean-Luc de Kok, Fraser Morgan, Brendan Williams

Land-use/land-cover modelling is increasingly playing a key role in helping to explore complex environmental issues in an integrated and holistic manner and address sustainable development on a finite planet. In particular land-use/land-cover change modelling by definition adds a spatial dimension to such explorations, thereby helping frame important issues of distributional social justice such as the spatially heterogenous impacts of climate change. However land-use/land-cover models suffer from a number of limitations that limit their versatility and scope. The limitations relate to the continuing tendancy to characterise land use and land cover as one would on a paper map, i.e. as a set of simple categories displayed in a non-spatially overlapping manner wheres in reality land-use and land-cover are much more rich and complex. Characterising and modelling land use and land cover in such a simple manner limits the types of questions one can ask and by extension limits the possible approaches to addressing persistently wicked problems such as those presented by sustainable development. The challenges lying ahead for policy, planning, and resource management across scales demand better approaches to characterising and modelling land use and land cover (e.g., multiple uses, functionality, ecosystem services, etc.) that overcome those limitations while at the same time becoming more useful and accessible to policy makers, planners and resource managers.

This session seeks to bring together researchers with interests in land-use/ land-cover modelling to present emerging ideas, methods and techniques for advancing land-use/land-cover change modelling to overcome current limitations and better deal with the complexity found in the real world. We are open to any papers dealing broadly with the concept of complexity in land-use and land-cover modelling but especially desire papers that address one of the following four themes:

  1. Ideas and methods for better characterising land-use/land cover
  2. Techniques and algorithms to facilitate more complex modelling of land-use/land cover change
  3. Approaches and solutions for making complex modelling of land-use/land-cover more tractable and accessible
  4. Addressing/quantifying uncertainty in the face of increasing complexity.

The session will be accompanied by a workshop (F6) in which participants will discuss the benefits, drawbacks and challenges in more complex approaches to land-use/land-cover modelling.

Link to full papers


F2. Sustainability assessment: quantitative indicators, models and techniques
Marina G. Erechtchoukova, Peter A. Khaiter

Topic: quantitative methods for sustainability appraisal

Sustaining the environment via maintaining its functions in order to provide economic growth and social needs becomes vitally important. Social sustainability is aimed at attaining social goals, including maximum consumption. Such simplified representation of societal development demonstrates that environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainability are interrelated and must be considered all together in decision and policy making. Sustainable development can be achieved through management activities which are based on sustainable decisions. To evaluate decision's sustainability, it is necessary to evaluate and analyze values of current and future welfare outcomes. The latter makes application of models and mathematical tools unavoidable and explains the necessity to use quantitative indicators of sustainability. Currently used sustainability indicators describe multidimensional aspects of sustainable development. However, these indicators are measured using incompatible units and their evaluation requires data of different scales with various levels of aggregation, collected based on objective observations and measurements, as well as surveys and interviews reflecting subjective opinions of individuals.

The session invites papers describing development and/or applications of quantitative methods for sustainability assessment, evaluation of current and future welfare, data requirements and uncertainty estimates of the results. The works related to evaluation of uncertainty in aggregate sustainability indices are of a particular interest.

Link to full papers


F3.1 Simulating environmental change - quality, quantity and validation: Examples focusing on terrestial systems

& F3.2 Simulating environmental change - quality, quantity and validation: Examples focusing on hydrological aspects
both lead by Joerg Priess, Subhashree Das, Christian Schweitzer

"Managing Resources of a Limited Planet" requires the adaptation to changing biophysical environments as one of the key aspects. Many studies have already demonstrated that we changed large fractions of the terrestrial surface. While the processes associated with these transformations are mostly well known, it is still a major challenge to simulate them quantitatively - a prerequisite to adequately assess environmental as well as related socio-economic impacts of ongoing or future human activities and/or climate change. We emphasise the need for accurate representations of environmental change in studies of socio-environmental systems, as its dynamics may take effect over e.g. one order of magnitude (concentrations, rates) and require different actions or adaptation measures in the human domain.

In this session we invite papers explicitly addressing environmental changes (such as GHG-emissions, erosion, soil properties, water fluxes and quality, etc.) related to different types of land-use activities or naturally occurring processes. We especially encourage submissions of regional scale studies, but also welcome studies from larger (e.g. continental) or smaller scales (e.g. small catchments). Validating environmental changes for larger regions or longer periods is an ongoing challenge - hence, we highly welcome presentations picking up this problem.

Full papers


F5. Understanding ecosystem services, multi-functional land use, trade-offs and uncertainty
David Miller, Iain Brown and Keith Matthews

Land and the ecosystems it supports underpin the provision of food, fuel, clean water and air and cultural experiences that provide for human livelihoods and well-being. The provision of these goods is supported by ecosystem functions such as climate regulation, nutrient cycling, protection from disease and natural hazards, collectively referred to as ecosystem services. These in turn create a platform on which economic activity occurs, governance regimes are built, resource use is negotiated, land management decisions are framed and lives are lived. However, Ecosystem Services are threatened, globally and locally, by high levels of consumption, ecosystem degradation, biophysical and social change, and natural disasters. Realising the potential of land to deliver more provisioning services at the same time as protecting and enhancing regulating, supporting and cultural services is recognised as a significant challenge facing public policy makers, and private sector land managers. An inter-disciplinary evidence base combining biophysical and socio-economic research is key to delivering multiple objectives from land use, including food security, energy, biodiversity, water management, soil quality, biodiversity, and responses to climate change (mitigation and adaptation).

The focus of this session will be directed towards identifying the scientific understanding of the likely significance of pressures for change in relation to different land use sectors, and the potential implications of uncertainty on transition pathways. Papers will be encouraged which consider issues of:

  1. Implications of uncertainty in modelling (e.g. spatial, social) on transition pathways of land use change and trade-offs between ecosystem services
  2. Understanding interactions between multi-functional land uses, and certainty in modelling of land's potential for supporting different ecosystem services
  3. The communication of statistical and geographical distributions of impacts, and the perception and communication of risks to ecosystem services of pressures for change.

Output: journal papers drawn from the conference session and on topics elicited from the session and associated workshop. In particular, a refereed paper on the position statement around the topic of ecosystem services, trade-offs and uncertainty. The Environmental Modelling journal, and Journal of Land Use Science will be approached with a proposal for submissions.

This session is linked with the workshop (F7).

Link to full papers