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The effect of industrialization and globalization on domestic land-use: A global resource footprint perspective

21 June 2021

Authors: Christian Dorninger, Henrik von Wehrden, Fridolin Krausmann, Martin Bruckner, Kuishuang Feng, Klaus Hubacek, Karl-Heinz Erb, David J.Abson.

Journal: Global Environmental Change, Volume 69, July 2021.


Land-use activities are increasingly globalized and industrialized. While this contributes to a reduction of pressure on domestic ecosystems in some regions, spillover effects from these processes represent potential obstacles for global sustainable land-use. This contribution scrutinizes the complex global resource nexus of national land-use intensity, international trade of biomass goods, and resource footprints in land-use systems. Via a systematic account of the global human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) and input–output modelling, we demonstrate that with growing income countries reduce their reliance on local renewable resources, while simultaneously consuming more biomass goods produced in other countries requiring higher energy and material inputs. The characteristic 'outsourcing' country appropriates 43% of its domestic net primary production, but net-imports a similar amount (64 gigajoules per capita and year) from other countries and requires energy (11 GJ/cap/yr) and material (~400 kg/cap/yr) inputs four to five times higher as the majority of the global population to sustain domestic land-use intensification. This growing societal disconnect from domestic ecological productivity enables a domestic conservation of ecosystems while satisfying growing demand. However, it does not imply a global decoupling of biomass consumption from resource and land requirements.

Last modified:21 June 2021 1.28 p.m.

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