Our Common Cropland: Quantifying Global Agricultural Land Use from a Consumption Perspective

Sylvia Tramberend, Günther Fischer, Martin Bruckner, Harrij van Velthuizen

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Understanding teleconnections of regional consumption patterns and global land use supports policy making towards achieving sustainable land use. We present an innovative globally consistent hybrid land-flow accounting method to track biomass flows and embodied land along global supply chains. It uses the large FAOSTAT database, which is, for non-food commodities, complemented with a multi-regional input-output model. We employ the hybrid model globally between 1995 and 2010 and present results for 21 regional markets. Results highlight the growing integration in international markets. In 2010, 31% of cropland cultivation was for export markets compared to 16% in 1995. The higher land demand of livestock-based diets, which account for one third of global cropland use, and differences in land use intensities cause large regional variations in extents and composition of land footprints. The utilization of cropland changed towards a growing importance of the non-food sector accounting for 12% in 2010. Comparing land quality weighted cropland footprints across regions further reveals large differences in the appropriation of available global cropland productivity. Because of large uncertainties and quality differences in the actual use of grassland for feeding ruminants, we propose land quality weighted grassland footprints to discuss the additional land use for ruminant livestock products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332 - 341
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 107004 Human ecology
  • 201128 Sustainable building
  • 401905 Renewable resources
  • 405 not use (legacy)
  • 405004 Sustainable agriculture
  • 502042 Environmental economics
  • 502022 Sustainable economics
  • 105904 Environmental research

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