Experiments in globalization, food security and land use decision making

C. Brown, D. Murray-Rust, J. van Vliet, S. J. Alam, P.H. Verburg, M.D.A. Rounsevell

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    The globalisation of trade affects land use, food production and environments around the world. In principle, globalisation can maximise productivity and efficiency if competition prompts specialisation on the basis of productive capacity. In reality, however, such specialisation is often constrained by practical or political barriers, including those intended to ensure national or regional food security. These are likely to produce globally sub-optimal distributions of land uses. Both outcomes are subject to the responses of individual land managers to economic and environmental stimuli, and these responses are known to be variable and often (economically) irrational. We investigate the consequences of stylised food security policies and globalisation of agricultural markets on land use patterns under a variety of modelled forms of land manager behaviour, including variation in production levels, tenacity, land use intensity and multi-functionality. We find that a system entirely dedicated to regional food security is inferior to an entirely globalised system in terms of overall production levels, but that several forms of behaviour limit the difference between the two, and that variations in land use intensity and functionality can substantially increase the provision of food and other ecosystem services in both cases. We also find emergent behaviour that results in the abandonment of productive land, the slowing of rates of land use change and the fragmentation or, conversely, concentration of land uses following changes in demand levels.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e0114213
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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