Global human appropriation of net primary production for biomass consumption in the European Union, 1986 - 2007

The ongoing globalization process strengthens the connections between different geographic regions through trade. Biomass products, such as food, fiber, or bioenergy, are increasingly traded globally, thereby leading to telecouplings between distant, seemingly unrelated regions. For example, restrictions for agricultural production or changes in bioenergy demand in Europe or the United States might contribute to deforestation in Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa. One approach to analyze trade-related land-use effects of the global socioeconomic biomass metabolism is the 'embodied human appropriation of net primary production' or eHANPP. eHANPP accounts allocate to any product the entire amount of the human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) that emerges throughout its supply chain. This allows consumption-based accounts to move beyond simple area-demand approaches by taking differences in natural productivity as well as in land-use intensity into account, both across land-use types as well as across world regions. In this article, we discuss the eHANPP related to the European Union's (EU) consumption of biomass products in the period 1986-2007, based on a consistent global trade data set derived from bilateral data. We find a considerable dependency of the EU on the appropriation of biological productivity outside its own boundaries, with increasing reliance on Latin America as a main supplier. By using the EU as an illustrative example, we demonstrate the usefulness of eHANPP for assessing land-use impacts caused by nations' socioeconomic activities and conclude that the eHANPP approach can provide useful information to better manage ecosystems globally in the face of an increasingly interconnected world.


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