Experiments in globalization, food security and land use decision making
Vliet, J. van
Alam, S. J.
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The globalisation of trade affects land use, food production and environmentsaround the world. In principle, globalisation can maximise productivity andefficiency if competition prompts specialisation on the basis of productive capacity.In reality, however, such specialisation is often constrained by practical or politicalbarriers, including those intended to ensure national or regional food security.These are likely to produce globally sub-optimal distributions of land uses. Bothoutcomes are subject to the responses of individual land managers to economicand environmental stimuli, and these responses are known to be variable and often(economically) irrational. We investigate the consequences of stylised food securitypolicies and globalisation of agricultural markets on land use patterns under avariety of modelled forms of land manager behaviour, including variation inproduction levels, tenacity, land use intensity and multi-functionality. We find that asystem entirely dedicated to regional food security is inferior to an entirelyglobalised system in terms of overall production levels, but that several forms ofbehaviour limit the difference between the two, and that variations in land useintensity and functionality can substantially increase the provision of food and otherecosystem services in both cases. We also find emergent behaviour that results inthe abandonment of productive land, the slowing of rates of land use change andthe fragmentation or, conversely, concentration of land uses following changes indemand levels.