Changes in the spatial patterns of human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) in Europe 1990–2006


Understanding patterns, dynamics, and drivers of land use is crucial for improving our ability to cope with sustainability challenges. The human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) framework provides a set of integrated socio-ecological indicators that quantify how land use alters energy flows in ecosystems via land conversions and biomass harvest. Thus, HANPP enables researchers to systematically and consistently assess the outcome of changes in land cover and land-use intensity across spatio-temporal scales. Yet, fine-scale HANPP assessments are so far missing, an information important to address site-specific ecological implications of land use. Here, we provide such an assessment for Europe at a 1-km scale for the years 1990, 2000, and 2006. The assessment was based on a consistent land-use/biomass flow dataset derived from statistical data, remote sensing maps, and a dynamic global vegetation model. We find that HANPP in Europe amounted to ~43 % of potential productivity, well above the global average of ~25 %, with little variation in the European average since 1990. HANPP was highest in Central Europe and lower in Northern and Southern Europe. At the regional level, distinct changes in land-use intensity were observed, most importantly the decline of cropland areas and yields following the breakdown of socialism in Eastern Europe and the subsequent recovery after 2000, or strong dynamics related to storm events that resulted in massive salvage loggings. In sum, however, these local dynamics cancelled each other out at the aggregate level. We conclude that this finding warrants further research into aspects of the scale-dependency of dynamics and stability of land use.

Regional Environmental Change
Patrick Hostert
Patrick Hostert
Principal Investigator