Land Allocation and Valuation Models Phase 2

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Inst of Biological and Environmental Sci

Abstract

Land allocation models or Ecosystem service tools (ES tools) are simple descriptions of complex landscape processes which includes biogeochemical processes as well as demographic and socioeconomic influence. These ecosystem service tools range from simple excel based tools, to complex and detailed biophysical models with GIS mapping-based toolkits using simpler biophysical models, or empirical models providing an intermediate option. Simple tools such as the Natural Capital Planning tool (NCPT) or Eco-metric approaches are score-based approaches where as complex integrated models like InVEST can provide detailed quantitative, as well as economic, estimation of land management on various ecosystem services. These tools are often used for real decision making, estimating financial incentives associated with an investment on land management or predicting how sustainable development goals could be achieved through better land use. These tools vary greatly in their approaches and assumptions to simulate these complex human and nature interactions and recently there has been few model inter-comparison studies using mostly integrated models such as InVEST, LUCI and ARIES. However, more robust comparison of these simple to complex tools is required to understand how decision making can be influenced with use of tools of different complexity. In the Phase 1 stage of the work six ES tools/methods and a number of potential case studies were shortlisted, through consultation with stakeholders and steering group members and review of past studies. In Phase 2 we will road test the short-listed ES tools with real world case studies to test the following overarching hypothesis:
1. Models of different complexity are comparable in providing evidence for decision making for land cover or land use management. Simple score based approaches could be used in a data /technical capacity limiting situation or may be as a tiered approach where simple tool can be used to decide the direction of impact with the land use change and in the next stage depending on the data/resource/technical capacity availability more complex detailed integrated models could be used for quantitative analysis and valuation (monetary or non-monetary) of future ecosystem services.
2. Impact of uncertainties in data input, model parameters and structure influences the outcome greatly. New approaches such as "Goal structured notations approach" could be used to assess assumptions in the tool.
The project will bring together a group of modellers using different models, stakeholders which also includes case study experts who will provide input data for simulations and policy makers to one platform for a better understanding on how ES tools can help landscape decision making. Outcomes of this work will be individual high impact peer review papers for individual ES tools with simulation for few case studies and one model inter-comparison paper.

Planned Impact

A range of tools are available to assess natural capital, and the status and flow of services, selecting which tool to use for landscape decision making is problematic. The choice of tool depends on the spatial scale at which the decision is being taken and what decision is to be made, i.e. a better understanding of the key question is often required. Decision making framework such as "The Land Choices Guide" used by the National Trust relies heavily on local expertise and is used in conjunction with field survey, mapping, preparing a statement of significance, site visits, visualising any upgrade, and realising the benefits on six land functions. An ES tool simple or complex, would not replace this process, but rather supplement these sources of evidence to promote better evidence-based decision making.
The project aims to test if use of an ES tool in addition to existing decision making framework really results in better evidence building which will lead to better decision making. The project also aims at better understanding on selection of ES tools, data availability, technical capacity requirement, time required to do the simulations, feasibility of comparison of outputs as different tools might provide output at different spatial and temporal scale. Assessment of multiple ecosystem services was identified as one of the prerequisite in selection of an ES tool however it is well established that there exists trade-offs and synergies of different services associated with a decision. Better understanding of trade-off between ecosystem services which is an important aspect of landscape decision making is imperative and there is a clear need of research on understanding how the selected tools address trade-off if they do and if there is no trade-off or synergies considered, if that is going to influence decision making. It is important to understand these aspect now when the decision being made as realisation of services for decision made now takes long time.
Consultation with stakeholders, case study experts, modellers and policy makers has already been made during phase 1 stage of the project and phase 2 work is being planned to be accomplished with complete engagement them with workshops planned at the start and end of the project. The outcome of the model inter-comparison exercise will be disseminated in the final workshop, in the form of a final report and few peer-reviewed journal articles. In addition to benefits to academics, benefit to stakeholders and policy makers could be realised with better understanding of selected ES tools and their role in providing evidence or identification of location where land can be better managed for a desired service. Opportunity mapping in different scenarios will provide policy makers with range of options before the real decision making.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We summarised the outcome of a model-intercomparison study for different Ecosystem service tools (ES tools) ranging from simple excel based tools, to complex and detailed biophysical models with GIS mapping-based toolkits. In the initial phase of the work (Land allocation model comparison phase 1), six ES tools/methods and a number of potential case studies were shortlisted, through consultation with stakeholders and steering group members and review of past studies. In the phase 2 of the study the short-listed ES tools e.g. The Land Choices Guide, NCPT, The Eco-metric approach, InVEST, LUCI and NEVO were tested with three real world case studies e.g. Conwy Catchment, Wales; Cranleigh Waters, England and Bishops Court Farm, England. These tools were compared particularly for their ease of use, complexity, strengths and weaknesses. Input data requirement varied according to the complexity of the tools; and was moderate for NCPT, The Eco-metric approach, high for InVEST, LUCI tools and low for the online NEVO tool as input data was integrated with the tool. "The Land Choices guide" used by the National Trust relies heavily on input from local expertise and is used in conjunction with field survey, mapping, site visits, visualising any upgrade, and realising the benefits on six land functions. Our aim was also to understand if an ES tool simple or complex can supplement "The land choice guide" with evidence to promote better evidence-based decision making. The tools varied significantly in the result output format with NCPT/Eco-metric approach providing results as impact scores whereas InVEST, LUCI and NEVO provided service output value in biophysical or economic terms. Even though the tools varied significantly in their complexities, the outcomes were comparable mostly qualitatively but, in some cases, quantitatively. Most models agreed on the directional change of ES provision under LUC scenarios; however, there was significant variation in the strength of LUC impacts on different ecosystem services. Evaluation of output data for these tools with measured data is vital but within the project period this analysis was not possible. It is recommended that the models outlined here be used in conjunction with one another. Land use change decision making requires time and resources that must be allocated on a project-by-project basis. For this reason, a tiered hierarchy of model usage is suggested, where simpler models requiring low levels of time and expertise are used as indicators of the direction and strength of proposed LUC on ES at a site of development. This proposal is based on the similarity in the directional impacts of LUC shared by all the models used here for each case study. At the early stages of decision making, easy -to-use models can be applied. It is recommended at this stage that Eco-metric tool and NCPT be used at small scales, as they allow local expertise and small-scale land use modifications to be taken into account. At larger scales, NEVO is recommended to assess the potential strength and direction of proposed LUC on ES. Where spatially explicit results are required for land use planning, or more detailed results required, more complex models such as LUCI and InVEST are recommended.
Exploitation Route Used by the Landscape Decisions Programme: https://www.ukri.org/our-work/browse-our-areas-of-investment-and-support/landscape-decisions-towards-a-new-framework-for-using-land-assets/
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Description We summarised the outcome of a model-intercomparison study for different Ecosystem service tools (ES tools) ranging from simple excel based tools, to complex and detailed biophysical models with GIS mapping-based toolkits. In the initial phase of the work (Land allocation model comparison phase 1), six ES tools/methods and a number of potential case studies were shortlisted, through consultation with stakeholders and steering group members and review of past studies. In the phase 2 of the study the short-listed ES tools e.g. The Land Choices Guide, NCPT, The Eco-metric approach, InVEST, LUCI and NEVO were tested with three real world case studies e.g. Conwy Catchment, Wales; Cranleigh Waters, England and Bishops Court Farm, England. These tools were compared particularly for their ease of use, complexity, strengths and weaknesses. Input data requirement varied according to the complexity of the tools; and was moderate for NCPT, The Eco-metric approach, high for InVEST, LUCI tools and low for the online NEVO tool as input data was integrated with the tool. "The Land Choices guide" used by the National Trust relies heavily on input from local expertise and is used in conjunction with field survey, mapping, site visits, visualising any upgrade, and realising the benefits on six land functions. Our aim was also to understand if an ES tool simple or complex can supplement "The land choice guide" with evidence to promote better evidence-based decision making. The tools varied significantly in the result output format with NCPT/Eco-metric approach providing results as impact scores whereas InVEST, LUCI and NEVO provided service output value in biophysical or economic terms. Even though the tools varied significantly in their complexities, the outcomes were comparable mostly qualitatively but, in some cases, quantitatively. Most models agreed on the directional change of ES provision under LUC scenarios; however, there was significant variation in the strength of LUC impacts on different ecosystem services. Evaluation of output data for these tools with measured data is vital but within the project period this analysis was not possible. It is recommended that the models outlined here be used in conjunction with one another. Land use change decision making requires time and resources that must be allocated on a project-by-project basis. For this reason, a tiered hierarchy of model usage is suggested, where simpler models requiring low levels of time and expertise are used as indicators of the direction and strength of proposed LUC on ES at a site of development. This proposal is based on the similarity in the directional impacts of LUC shared by all the models used here for each case study. At the early stages of decision making, easy -to-use models can be applied. It is recommended at this stage that Eco-metric tool and NCPT be used at small scales, as they allow local expertise and small-scale land use modifications to be taken into account. At larger scales, NEVO is recommended to assess the potential strength and direction of proposed LUC on ES. Where spatially explicit results are required for land use planning, or more detailed results required, more complex models such as LUCI and InVEST are recommended.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services