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Sensitivity Analysis of a Land-Use Change Model with and without Agents to Assess Land Abandonment and Long-Term Re-Forestation in a Swiss Mountain Region

Julia Maria Brändle (), Gaby Langendijk (), Simon Peter (), Sibyl Hanna Brunner () and Robert Huber ()
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Julia Maria Brändle: Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
Gaby Langendijk: Earth System Science Group, Wageningen University and Research Center, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
Simon Peter: Department of Environmental Systems Science, Agricultural Economics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Sonneggstrasse 33, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
Sibyl Hanna Brunner: Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
Robert Huber: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland

Land, 2015, vol. 4, issue 2, 1-38

Abstract: Land abandonment and the subsequent re-forestation are important drivers behind the loss of ecosystem services in mountain regions. Agent-based models can help to identify global change impacts on farmland abandonment and can test policy and management options to counteract this development. Realigning the representation of human decision making with time scales of ecological processes such as reforestation presents a major challenge in this context. Models either focus on the agent-specific behavior anchored in the current generation of farmers at the expense of representing longer scale environmental processes or they emphasize the simulation of long-term economic and forest developments where representation of human behavior is simplified in time and space. In this context, we compare the representation of individual and aggregated decision-making in the same model structure and by doing so address some implications of choosing short or long term time horizons in land-use modeling. Based on survey data, we integrate dynamic agents into a comparative static economic sector supply model in a Swiss mountain region. The results from an extensive sensitivity analysis show that this agent-based land-use change model can reproduce observed data correctly and that both model versions are sensitive to the same model parameters. In particular, in both models the specification of opportunity costs determines the extent of production activities and land-use changes by restricting the output space. Our results point out that the agent-based model can capture short and medium term developments in land abandonment better than the aggregated version without losing its sensitivity to important socio-economic drivers. For comparative static approaches, extensive sensitivity analysis with respect to opportunity costs, i.e. , the measure of benefits forgone due to alternative uses of labor is essential for the assessment of the impact of climate change on land abandonment and re-forestation in mountain regions.

Keywords: land abandonment; re-forestation; mountain regions; agent-based modeling; sector supply model; sensitivity analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q15 Q2 Q24 Q28 Q5 R14 R52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:gam:jlands:v:4:y:2015:i:2:p:475-512:d:50797

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