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Modelling the spatial and temporal management of land-use to optimise biodiversity - IF0143

Enhancing or retaining biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems is a key priority within the UK. The biodiversity of agricultural landscapes is determined by the spatial arrangement of land use types (such as arable, woodland, bioenery crop, set-aside etc), and this is in turn determined by the decisions that land managers make about how to manage their land, i.e. what to grow where. A previous Defra project (IF0137) identified management, agronomic and economic factors as those that had the greatest influence on the decisions of land managers. The aim of this project is to develop an integrated model to predict how the decisions made about land-use, based on economic, land characteristic, landscape and management factors, affect biodiversity within agroecosystems, with a focus on how economic incentives could be utilised to optimise biodiversity enhancement within agoecosystems.
The project will consist of 3 phases:

1) Development of a land-use decision model

In this part of the project, we will develop a model of land use decision making, based on influence diagrams developed in Defra project IF0137. The influence diagrams will be used as templates for the model as they describe the factors that determine the decisions about land use and how these factors influence each other. Land use information will be obtained from GIS datasets such as the Land Cover Map 2000 and OS mastermap data and from Defra held data on land use such as IACS and the June survey. The model will predict the crops grown in individual land parcels or fields on an annual basis. The model will be able to predict land use at a range of spatial levels from farm through to JCA (Joint Character Area) or catchment levels.

2) Application of the model to determine preferable arrangments of land-use

Existing models of landscape heterogeneity (a surrogate for biodiversity) and habitat permeability (ability for species to move through the landscape), developed as part of Defra project NF0440, will be modified so that the algorithms are able to cope with field level data, to ensure that the models are compatible with predictions from the land-use decision model. The habitat permeability models will be modified to allow the simulation of the movement of multiple species from a range of taxa (i.e. so that the results are appropriate for a diverse range of species)
A range of plausible scenarios for land-use allocation will then be assessed for the effects on landscape heterogeneity and habitat permeability, to identify strategies and methodologies for optimising the pattern of land use to provide the greatest benefit to biodiversity and to make it as permeable as possible to a wide range of different species.

3) Simulation of economic incentives for management of the landscape to enhance biodiversity

A set of plausible economic future scenarios will be developed and used to model the effects of market prices, financial incentives and the interaction between these two factors on land-use decisions. The land-use decision model will use these scenarios to predict the changes in land-use up to 50 years from the present day. The output of the land-use model will then be analysed year by year using the landscape heterogeneity and habitat permeability models to determine which economic scenarios provide the greatest benefit for biodiversity in agricultural systems.

This project will produce a set of recommendations (including economic incentives) on the most appropriate methods for influencing land-use decision making to promote a landscape that has maximum benefit for biodiversity, whilst still providing the key functions of food and fuel production.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : IF0143 evid4   (238k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 1 - tables   (354k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 2 - figures   (8092k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 2a - figures   (4946k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 2b - figures   (6853k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 2c - figures   (2619k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 3 - maps   (10938k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 3a - maps   (3786k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 3b - maps   (3884k)
• ANX - Annex : IF0143 Appendix 3c - maps   (3858k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2011

Cost: £439,863
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Warwick - HRI
Agricultural Land              
Allocated - WHRI              
Integrated Farming Systems              
Sustainable Farming and Food Science              
Sustainable Farming Systems