Thailand farmers are farming rice with black lace.

Global land use determines several outcomes jointly: aggregate food production; feasible human population; stability of the food production system; and the availability of genetic resources. Together these outcomes determine the sustainability of the entire food production system, and consequently the capacity for the human niche to be supported.

This project examines various pathways for land use – and demonstrates the joint outcomes along each pathway that results (food production, population, stability, genetic resource availability). In this way the issue of global land use is assessed within a framework very similar to that applied elsewhere by Stern (2006) in the analysis of climate change and growth pathways. We also simulate how aggregate outcomes vary across different assumptions concerning discounting, hazard rates, and technological change. In this way it is possible to examine the sustainability of various alternative global land use pathways – given the impact of land use on growth, systemic stability and resultant human welfare.

The above flow chart provides a conceptual framework for the model, showing the interlinkages between the quantities that are endogenously determined. Agricultural land serves as a basic input to food production, which sustains the population/labor supply. The land input is substituted with capital and labor, mainly driven by the opportunity cost of not using the inputs for other purposes as well as the elasticity of substitution. A decline in agricultural land area can be compensated through R&D, allocating labor towards the growth of agricultural R&D.

Please see the publications and output of the project for discussion and detail.