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Extending Land Footprints Towards Characterizing Sustainability of Land Use

Extending Land Footprints Towards Characterizing Sustainability of Land Use

This report discusses extensions of area-based land foot-prints with meaningful impact-oriented indicators for the assessment of the effects of different con-sumption patterns on the ecosystems and sustainability of land use. First, existing indicators for representing the environmental impacts of land use are introduced in the context of their linkages and complementarity to area-based land footprints. The report discusses the following key indicators, which were identified as particularly relevant during an export workshop: System indicators, which qualify the area-based footprints across globally very different potential land productivities, deforestation footprint, energy use in agriculture, and irrigation water use in agriculture classified by degree of water scarcity. It introduces the methods developed for the quantification of system indicators for cropland and grassland footprints and for the deforestation footprint, and present results for Germany and the EU.


Günther Fischer et. al. 2017: Extending land footprints towards characterizing sustainability of land use. Dessau: Federal Environment Agency.

Günther Fischer, Sylvia Tramberend, Harrij van Velthuizen (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg)
Martin Bruckner, Stefan Giljum (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
105 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Land related indicators in international and national policy making
3 Scope and approach
3.1 Project approach towards sustainable land use and system boundaries
3.2 Methodology for structuring the indicators
3.3 Basic concepts for extending land footprints
4 Extending land footprints with land quality and impact-oriented indicators
4.1 Selection criteria for possible indicators
4.2 Summary of a review of existing land use indicators
4.3 Recommendations from an Expert Workshop
4.4 Challenges and current limitations
5 Priority indicators for extending land footprints
5.1 System indicators
5.1.1 Cropland footprint weighted by potential cropland productivity
5.1.2 Grassland footprint weighted by biomass productivity
5.2 Energy use in agriculture
5.3 Irrigation water use in agriculture classified by water scarcity/security
5.4 Forest loss (Deforestation)
6 Quantification of selected indicators
6.1 System indicators
6.1.1 Grassland footprint weighted by biomass productivity
6.1.2 Cropland footprint weighted by land quality
6.2 Deforestation footprint
6.2.1 Methodology overview
6.2.2 Deforestation footprints
7 Conclusions
8 References
9 Annex 1: Role of socio-economic indicators
9.1 Food security
9.2 Land Governance/Land tenure/Access to Land
9.2.1 Land tenure/land access
9.2.2 Corruption
10 Annex 2: Overview of environmental impact-oriented indicators related to land use
10.1 Environmental Impacts
10.1.1 Biodiversity Abundance and distribution of (selected) species Fragmentation of natural and semi-natural areas Protected areas Livestock Diversity Landscape Diversity
10.1.2 Soil Soil organic matter Wind and Water Erosion
10.1.3 Water Water quantity and scarcity Water quality
10.1.4 Climate
10.2 Land Use Indicators – Overview
10.3 Land use intensity
10.3.1 Input intensity Fertilizer use Use of plant protection products Irrigation use
10.3.2 Management practices Agro-diversity Grassland management Forest Management
10.3.3 System indicators HANPP Yield gaps
10.3.4 Bio-productivity weighted land footprint
10.4 Land conversion
10.4.1 Conversion to/from forest land (deforestation/afforestation)
10.4.2 Conversion to/from cropland & change in grassland area
10.4.3 Land restoration
10.4.4 Land take/sealing
11 Annex 3: International Expert Workshop
11.1 List of participants
11.2 Agenda
11.3 Minutes of the meeting
12 Annex 4: Method for attribution of deforestation to main sectors and primary commodities

land footprint, ecosystem services, land functions, biodiviersity, soil, land, sustainable land use, global, Europe, Germany