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Integrated bio-economic models as tools to support land-use decision making: a review of potential and limitations


  • Luz Maria Castro

    () (Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja
    Technische Universität München)

  • Fabian Härtl

    (Technische Universität München)

  • Santiago Ochoa

    (Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja)

  • Baltazar Calvas

    (Technische Universität München
    Facultad de Ciencias Pecuarias, Universidad Técnica Estatal de Quevedo)

  • Leonardo Izquierdo

    (Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja)

  • Thomas Knoke

    (Technische Universität München)


Bio-economic modelling has become a useful tool for anticipating the outcomes of policies and technologies before their implementation. Advances in mathematical programming have made it possible to build more comprehensive models. In an overview of recent studies about bio-economic models applied to land-use problems in agriculture and forestry, we evaluated how aspects such as uncertainty, multiple objective functions, system dynamics and time have been incorporated into models. We found that single objective models were more frequently applied at the farm level, while multiple objective modelling has been applied to meet concerns at the landscape level. Among the objectives, social aspects are seldom represented in all models, when being compared to economic and environmental aspects. The integration of uncertainty is occasionally a topic, while stochastic approaches are more frequently applied than non-stochastic robust methods. Most multiple-objective models do not integrate uncertainty or sequential decision making. Static approaches continue to be more recurrent than truly dynamic models. Even though integrating multiple aspects may enhance our understanding of a system; it involves a tradeoff between complexity and robustness of the results obtained. Land-use models have to address this balance between complexity and robustness in order to evolve towards robust multiple-objective spatial optimization as a prerequisite to achieve sustainability goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Luz Maria Castro & Fabian Härtl & Santiago Ochoa & Baltazar Calvas & Leonardo Izquierdo & Thomas Knoke, 2018. "Integrated bio-economic models as tools to support land-use decision making: a review of potential and limitations," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 183-211, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:20:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10818-018-9270-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s10818-018-9270-6

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    2. Damian C. Adams & Andres Susaeta & Jose R. Soto & Frederick Rossi & Paloma Carton Grammont & William A. Messina & Frank H. Koch & Demian Gomez & Jiri Hulcr, 2020. "A bioeconomic model for estimating potential economic damages from a hypothetical Asian beetle introduced via future trade with Cuba," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 33-58, April.
    3. Esther Reith & Elizabeth Gosling & Thomas Knoke & Carola Paul, 2020. "How Much Agroforestry Is Needed to Achieve Multifunctional Landscapes at the Forest Frontier?—Coupling Expert Opinion with Robust Goal Programming," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(15), pages 1-26, July.
    4. Marta Ezquerro & Marta Pardos & Luis Diaz-Balteiro, 2019. "Sustainability in Forest Management Revisited Using Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Techniques," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(13), pages 1-24, July.
    5. Elliot, Thomas & Bertrand, Alexandre & Babí Almenar, Javier & Petucco, Claudio & Proença, Vânia & Rugani, Benedetto, 2019. "Spatial optimisation of urban ecosystem services through integrated participatory and multi-objective integer linear programming," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 409(C), pages 1-1.


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