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Ecological-economic modelling of anthropogenic landscape change

Both ecologists and economists use models to study environmental problems. These need to be combined if the models are to be helpful for finding solutions. Pure ecological models ignore the human dimension of landscape management and pure economic models the ecological dimension.

The aim of this project is to drive the integration of ecological and economic models, thereby facilitating the interdisciplinary research that is needed for addressing climate change related problems.

Use of Agent Based Modelling

Agent Based Modelling (ABM) of agricultural land use change is the main platform for linking human behaviour and with other modelling in BECC. Using this approach we can for example link drivers of land use change (economics) to impacts of land use change on biodiversity (ecology) and impacts of changing weather patterns (climatology) on crop yields (agronomy), but also effects on flows of ecosytem services to society (geography).

Climate change is expected to affect Swedish agriculture and forestry in multiple ways, from increased volatility in prices and frequency of adverse weather events to changes in growing conditions and types of plants grown by land managers. We are investigating potential mitigation opportunities but also adaptation strategies by farmers and foresters to meet inadvertible climate change. We will suggest governance options for meeting these challenges, but also analyse the consequences of lack of action on the welfare of future generations through changes in ecosystem services.

Soil ecosystem services are essential for sustaining food production but it is unclear to what extent these can be replaced by man-made inputs such as fertilizers. We have quantified the effects of changing levels of soil organic carbon on wheat yield and fertilizer need. Conserving soil natural capital and attendant flows of ecosystem services boosts maximum crop yield and fertilizer productivity.

EU farmers are paid to maintain agricultural land in good agricultural condition. We have developed an agent-based model to link impacts of agricultural policy on farmers’ land use decisions and concomitant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The conditions for allocating agricultural payments are of great importance for preserving landscape values in marginal regions, but general land management rules are unlikely to be effective.


Mark Brady (AgriFood Economics Centre, Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences),  Mark [dot] Brady [at] slu [dot] se,
Phone: +46-(0)46-222 07 84

Ullrika Sahlin (Centre for Environmental and Climate Research), Ullrika [dot] Sahlin [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se,
Phone: +46-(0)46-222 68 31

Yann Clough (Centre for Environmental and Climate Research), Yann [dot] Clough [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se,

Involved researchers:

  • Ronggang (Leo) Cong (CEC, Lund University),
  • Katarina Hedlund (Department of Biology, Lund University),
  • Ola Olsson (Department of Biology, Lund University),
  • Ben Smith (Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University) ,
  • Henrik Smith (Department of Biology, Lund University)