A new method for assessing the sustainability of land-use systems (II): Evaluating impact indicators
In the past decade, numerous indicators and indicator sets for sustainable agriculture and sustainable land management have been proposed. In addition to their interest in comparing different management systems on an indicator by indicator basis, land managers are often interested in comparing individual indicators against a threshold, or, in order to study trade-offs, against each other. To this end it is necessary to (1) transform the original indicators into a comparable format, and (2) score these transformed indicators against a sustainability function. This paper introduces an evaluation method for land-use-related impact indicators, which was designed to accomplish these tasks. It is the second of a series of two papers, and as such it links into a larger framework for sustainability assessment of land use systems. The evaluation scheme introduced here comprises (1) a standardisation procedure, which aims at making different indicators comparable. In this procedure indicators are first normalised, by referencing them to the total impact they contribute towards, and then they are corrected by a factor describing the severity of this total impact in terms of exceeding a threshold. The procedure borrows conceptually from Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Impact Analysis methodology; (2) a valuation procedure, which judges the individual standardised indicators with regard to sustainability. This methodology is then tested on an indicator set for the environmental impact of a spinach production system in Northwest Germany. The method highlights mineral resource consumption, greenhouse gas emission, eutrophication and impacts on soil quality as the most important environmental effects of the studied system. We then explore the effect of introducing weighting factors, reflecting the differing societal perception of diverse environmental issues. Two different sets of weighting factors are used. The influence of weighting is, however, small compared to that of the standardisation procedure introduced earlier. Finally, we explore the propagation of uncertainty (defined as a variable's 95% confidence limits) throughout the standardisation procedure using a stochastic simulation approach. The uncertainty of the analysed standardised indicator was higher than that of the non-standardised indicators by a factor of 2.0 to 2.5.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Walter, Christof & Stützel, Hartmut, 2009. "A new method for assessing the sustainability of land-use systems (I): Identifying the relevant issues," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 1275-1287, March.
- Jamieson, Dale, 1998. "Sustainability and beyond," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 183-192, February.
- Izac, A-M. N. & Swift, M. J., 1994. "On agricultural sustainability and its measurement in small-scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 105-125, November.
- Hansen, J. W., 1996. "Is agricultural sustainability a useful concept?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 117-143.
- Tacconi, Luca, 1998. "Scientific methodology for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 91-105, October.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:5:p:1288-1300. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.