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Long-term trajectories of the human appropriation of net primary production: Lessons from six national case studies

  • Krausmann, Fridolin
  • Gingrich, Simone
  • Haberl, Helmut
  • Erb, Karl-Heinz
  • Musel, Annabella
  • Kastner, Thomas
  • Kohlheb, Norbert
  • Niedertscheider, Maria
  • Schwarzlmüller, Elmar
Registered author(s):

    The ‘human appropriation of net primary production’ (HANPP) is an integrated socio-ecological indicator measuring effects of land use on ecological biomass flows. Based on published data for Austria, Hungary, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the UK, this paper investigates long-term trends in aboveground HANPP and discusses the relations between population, economic growth, changes in biomass use and land-use intensity and their influences on national HANPP trajectories. During early stages of industrialization, population growth and increasing demand for biomass drive land-cover change, often resulting in deforestation, which raises HANPP. During later stages, industrialization of agriculture boosts agricultural yields often faster than biomass demand grows, resulting in stable or even declining HANPP. Technological change improves agricultural area-efficiency (biomass provision per unit area), thereby decoupling population and economic growth from HANPP. However, these efficiency gains require large inputs of fossil fuels and agrochemicals resulting in pressures on ecosystems and emissions. Our findings corroborate the argument that HANPP alone cannot – as sometimes suggested – be used as a simple measure of carrying capacity. Nevertheless, analyses of long-term HANPP trajectories in combination with accounts of material and energy flows can provide important insights into the sustainability of land use, thereby helping to understand limits to growth.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800912000833
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 77 (2012)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 129-138

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:77:y:2012:i:c:p:129-138
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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    1. Steinberger, Julia K. & Krausmann, Fridolin & Eisenmenger, Nina, 2010. "Global patterns of materials use: A socioeconomic and geophysical analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1148-1158, March.
    2. Kohlheb, Norbert & Krausmann, Fridolin, 2009. "Land use change, biomass production and HANPP: The case of Hungary 1961-2005," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 292-300, December.
    3. Kastner, Thomas, 2009. "Trajectories in human domination of ecosystems: Human appropriation of net primary production in the Philippines during the 20th century," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 260-269, December.
    4. Erb, Karl-Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin & Lucht, Wolfgang & Haberl, Helmut, 2009. "Embodied HANPP: Mapping the spatial disconnect between global biomass production and consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 328-334, December.
    5. Musel, Annabella, 2009. "Human appropriation of net primary production in the United Kingdom, 1800-2000: Changes in society's impact on ecological energy flows during the agrarian-industrial transition," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 270-281, December.
    6. Erb, Karl-Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin & Gaube, Veronika & Gingrich, Simone & Bondeau, Alberte & Fischer-Kowalski, Marina & Haberl, Helmut, 2009. "Analyzing the global human appropriation of net primary production -- processes, trajectories, implications. An introduction," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 250-259, December.
    7. Dittrich, Monika & Bringezu, Stefan, 2010. "The physical dimension of international trade: Part 1: Direct global flows between 1962 and 2005," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1838-1847, July.
    8. Schneider, Uwe A. & Kumar, Pushpam, 2008. "Greenhouse Gas Mitigation through Agriculture," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 23(1).
    9. Pushpam Kumar & Uwe A. Schneider, 2008. "Greenhouse gas emission mitigation through agriculture," Working Papers FNU-155, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2008.
    10. Uwe A. Schneider & Pete Smith, 2008. "Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation and Emission Intensities in Agriculture," Working Papers FNU-164, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jul 2008.
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