Designing a sustainable land use scenario based on a combination of ecological assessments and economic optimization

Marc Cotter*, Karin Berkhoff, Tarig Gibreel, Abdolbaset Ghorbani, Reza Golbon, Ernst August Nuppenau, Joachim Sauerborn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (SciVal)


Land use change and the corresponding effects on ecosystems and their services has gained much interest in the recent past, particularly in areas with a significant reservoir of biodiversity, the so-called biodiversity hot spots. In order to assess the impact of possible future land use decisions in a watershed in Yunnan, Southwest China, we applied a method of combining ecological and socio-economic indicators to highlight key aspects concerning the current status of our research area. Data on species diversity, landscape matrix and erosion risk as well as agricultural and socio-economic activities were gathered and analyzed. We were able to locate the areas were conservation measures, erosion control and improved agricultural practices would have the strongest impacts. This information was used to develop a storyline for a "Go Green" scenario. Expert groups and interdisciplinary panels were used to critically review, enhance and expand this storyline in the area of conflict between nature conservation, rural livelihood and economic development. Based on the set of planning prerequisites, a village-household linear programming model was developed and solved with the General Algebraic Modelling System (GAMS) to identify factors driving landscape and land use changes for three different farming systems in the Naban River Watershed National Nature Reserve, mainly to contribute to the CLUE-Naban model by providing representative farm types and to analyze the decision making of land use (until 2025). In addition, this model is designed to provide policy makers with potential strategic intervention options for land use planning through the utilization of shadow prices. This process enabled us to reconcile the demands for nature conservation and economic wellbeing on a basis of an iterative and participatory working process that incorporates ecological and economic datasets, but also takes the sustainability of rural livelihood into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-787
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Greater Mekong Subregion
  • Land use change
  • Modelling
  • Rubber
  • Scenario design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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