Developing land-use models

Creating scenarios of land use
Modelling land cover
Modelling ecosystems
Modelling biodiversity
Modelling species interaction
Modelling biological systems
Modelling conservation strategies
Computational studies in life sciences provide a new way of complementing experimental studies by modelling, visualizing and studying the growth, dynamics and aging of plants and marine sessile organisms for use in agriculture, environmental management and food production.Modelling takes into account external factors like soil water flow, soil porosity, plant hormones, fertilizers and even the damage caused by insects to the plant. Prospective applications include: computer assisted landscape architecture, design of new varieties of plants, crop yield prediction, optimal fertilization planning, water and pest control, and bush fire modelling. Computer modelling narrows the range of time consuming real-world experiments otherwise required. It is important for use in research, education and decision making - images, animation and interactive systems are now central to developmental biology, remote sensing, biodiversity, ecology and conservation. Applications include plant-landscape interactions such as predicting geographical distribution of species, simulating community dynamics, analysing species viability, matching crops to suitable farming districts, locating rare species, relocating endangered species and predicting possible effects of climate change.
With the appearance of homo sapiens a new agent of global change emerged. As their knowledge and technology level developed, human beings have acquired an ever increasing capability to transform the surface of the Earth. Land use models must take into account socio-cultural factors in addition to natural processes of the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends developing land-use models based on local practices in order to improve such practices, focusing on prevention of land degradation. These models would give a better understanding of the variety of natural and human-induced factors that may contribute to desertification. They should incorporate the interaction of new and traditional practices to prevent land degradation and reflect the resilience of the whole ecological and social system.

IIASA is developing an integrated model of land use and land cover by analysing the global impact (through systematic and cumulative effects) of decisions taken by millions of individuals and to project how the foundations for individual decisions ( [eg] agronomic, economic, cultural, psychological) are affected by global change.

1. The greatest threat to biological diversity lies in its replacement by alternative systems of land use. This often arises through market distortions, which undervalue natural systems and populations and provide perverse incentives and subsidies to favour the conversion of land to less diverse systems.
Evolution and species
Land type/use
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies