Quantifying the global cropland footprint of the European Union's non-food bioeconomy

Bruckner, Martin and Häyhä, Tiina and Giljum, Stefan ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4719-5867 and Maus, Victor and Fischer, Günther and Tramberend, Sylvia and Boerner, Jan (2019) Quantifying the global cropland footprint of the European Union's non-food bioeconomy. Environmental Research Letters, 14. pp. 1-19. ISSN 1748-9326

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Abstract

A rapidly growing share of global agricultural areas is devoted to the production of biomass for non-food purposes. The expanding non-food bioeconomy can have far-reaching social and ecological implications; yet, the non-food sector has attained little attention in land footprint studies. This paper provides the first assessment of the global cropland footprint of non-food products of the European Union (EU), a globally important region regarding its expanding bio-based economy. We apply a novel hybrid land flow accounting model, combining the biophysical trade model LANDFLOW with the multi-regional input-output model EXIOBASE. The developed hybrid approach improves the level of product and country detail, while comprehensively covering all global supply chains from agricultural production to final consumption, including highly-processed products, such as many non-food products. The results highlight the EU's role as a major processing and the biggest consuming region of cropland-based non-food products while at the same time relying heavily on imports. Two thirds of the cropland required to satisfy the EU's non-food biomass consumption are located in other world regions, particularly in China, the US and Indonesia, giving rise to potential impacts on distant ecosystems. With almost 39% in 2010, oilseeds used to produce for example biofuels, detergents and polymers represented the dominant share of the EU's non-food cropland demand. Traditional non-food biomass uses, such as fibre crops for textiles and animal hides and skins for leather products, also contributed notably (22%). Our findings suggest that if the EU Bioeconomy Strategy is to support global sustainable development, a detailed monitoring of land use displacement and spillover effects is decisive for targeted and effective EU policy making.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: bioeconomy, land footprint, non-food products, multi-regional input-output analysis, hybrid land flow accounting, European Union
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2019 09:40
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 10:26
Related URLs:
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/90380/
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/6736

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