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Modelling dynamic effects of multi-scale institutions on land use change

Holzhauer, Sascha, Brown, Calum, Rounsevell, Mark
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.3 pp. 733-746
climate change, ecosystem services, empirical research, land use change, land use planning, models, monitoring, socioeconomics
Formal institutions impact on the dynamics of land use change through their objectives, actions and decision-making processes in response to socio-economic or environmental changes such as climate change. The effects and interplay of these actions are not fully understood, and hence, institutional processes are rarely integrated in modelling analyses of land use change. The complex effects of institutional interactions within land systems can be better understood through modelling approaches that address the heterogeneity of the institutional actors involved and how their decisions affect temporal and spatial dynamics. In this paper, we present an agent-based model of autonomous land managers interacting with institutional agents at two spatial scales. We explore different parameters of institutional intervention (subsidy rate, triggers for action, delay in monitoring, scale-based precedence) under socio-economic drivers and analyse key metrics such as the maximum over- and undersupply of ecosystem services, connectivity of land uses, and degree of change in land use patterns. Levels of subsidy and action triggers have the greatest impact on the magnitude of land use change and the maximum oversupply of ecosystem services. In terms of achieving institutional objectives, subsidy rate is the most important single parameter in the model. Furthermore, we find non-linearity with variations in parameters that have important implications for current land use change modelling and requirements for empirical studies of land use planning institutions. Finally, the effects of high-end climate change may require entirely novel institutional behaviours.