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Looking back 2013

An analysis of the development of the agricultural production and deforestation worldwide: An article on the current global ILUC-discussion

ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) predictions mainly depend on the assumptions about how the additional agricultural demand for biomass production is covered. But ILUC due to agricultural growth varied strongly in the past among the different regions worldwide. Therefore, we analyzed the correlation between the development of the agricultural production and the land use changes and investigated which options (expansion of the agricultural area, increasing productivity, forest clearing etc.) supplied the feedstock demand for the growing agriculture sector in the past.

Our investigation shows what has been the main reason for the increase of the biomass production and how it is related to the intensification of the usage of existing agricultural area, globally and even in countries with a high deforestation rate. Besides this the analysis of the main drivers of land use change in the past due to agriculture growth is essential for ILUC predictions and prevention policy. One driver was the loss of agricultural land in important areas all over the world.

Our analysis shows that governance has a central influence on the development of land use. If the decoupling of the production increase from the expansion of agricultural area for biomass production into nature areas wants to be achieved, it will have to happen via governance in the relevant countries. Therefore, instruments have to be developed and implemented that are able to regulate land use sophistically corresponding to the individual countries.

January 2013