Land use

Land use is a key issue in relation to the production of biomass and food. The focus is on sustainable land use concepts and the issue of land-use change, and on the ecological assessment of standard land use practice. The use of marginal sites plays an increasingly important role, as does the impact on biodiversity. These and other aspects form the basis of our biomass potential studies and analyses of the local environmental effects of biomass and food production.

Our key research topics

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Land use and land use change

Land use is the starting point for the production of all types of biomass and food. The space required for this is a finite resource on this planet. Sustainable and efficient land use is therefore a key issue and requires ecological and social principles to be implemented on a global scale. Land-use change as a result of increasing land consumption can have serious consequences. On the one hand, these include changes in the carbon storage of the land cover which cause greenhouse gas emissions (summarised using the acronym LULUCF in Kyoto jargon). The consequences may also be reflected in the loss of biodiversity through changes to soils, influences on water bodies or other ecosystem services.

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Marginal land

A large number of scientific analyses are currently focussed on the use of marginal sites for cultivating biomass. The core idea of the concept is that cultivation on land that is not used for any agricultural or other purposes can have a relatively low environmental impact and reduced socio-economic consequences, as it helps to avoid any competition for space.

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Biomass potential studies

When it comes to socio-political decisions and defining targets, it is important to be able to assess the availability of biomass within a geographical entity at a given time, which is usually in the future. Biomass potential studies are usually developed to serve this purpose. These use scenario-based approaches to calculate the biomass potential.

Closeup of budding, flowering and overblown Meadow False Fleabane or Pulicaria dysenterica plants in their natural wild habitat. It's summertime now.

Biodiversity

We consider the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity to be an important basis for human wellbeing. However, biodiversity is under threat on many levels, in particular due to changes in habitats as a result of intensive land use and land-use change (in agriculture and forestry). In this regard, ifeu is involved in the ongoing methodological development of the life cycle assessment, and also applies the Life Cycle Environmental Impact Assessment in order to evaluate local environmental effects (including the impact on biodiversity).

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Local environmental impacts: LC-EIA

Life cycle environmental impact assessment (LC-EIA) is an environmental assessment method developed by ifeu together with IUS Weibel & Ness GmbH. The developers’ main intention was to supplement and enhance the results from life cycle assessment (LCA) with local and site-specific impacts of a production system which are usually not covered by standard LCA methodology.

Contact:

Horst Fehrenbach

Dipl. Biologist
Phone: +49 (0)6221 4767 16
E-Mail: horst.fehrenbach@ifeu.de

Nils Rettenmaier

Dipl. Geoecologist
Phone: +49 (0)6221 4767 24
E-Mail: nils.rettenmaier@ifeu.de