Changes in the human appropriation of net primary production in Europe 1990-2006: a spatially explicit analysis

Authors and Affiliations: 

Christine Kroisleitner,1,* Christoph Plutzar,1 Tim Beringer,2 Claudia Bulgheroni,3 Karl-Heinz Erb,1 Tamara Fetzel,1 Dietmar Moser,4 Maria-Luisa Paracchini,3 Helmut Haberl1

1 Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC), Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt, Wien, Graz (AAU), Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria

2 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Telegraphenberg A 31,
D-14473 Potsdam, Germany,

3 Joint Research Centre (JRC), via Enrico Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra Varese, Italien

4 Department of Conservation Biology, Vegetation Ecology and Landscape Ecology, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna



Patterns of land-use intensity in Europe have been changing considerably in the last few decades. While land use intensity is increasing in some regions, others are experiencing extensification or even land abandonment. These processes result in profound landscape changes that differ substantially between regions.


The human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) is an aggregate measure of land use intensity. HANPP is defined as the difference between NPPpot, the NPP of potential vegetation (the vegetation that would prevail in the absence of land use) and NPPeco, the NPP that remains in ecosystems after harvest, given current land use. NPP is a measure of the amount of biomass produced by green plants through photosynthesis. HANPP evaluates the magnitude of human impacts on yearly biomass flows and has been shown to be related with biodiversity, stocks and flows of carbon and other important ecological processes.


In the proposed talk we will present a spatially explicit (1 km) analysis of HANPP in Europe (EU-24) for the years 1990, 2000, and 2006. The maps are based on a consistent land-use dataset created from a large variety of input data, including Corine, CAPRI and Dynaspat, cross-checked with FAO and Eurostat data. NPP and harvest were modelled based on LPJmL DGVM simulations, agricultural and forestry statistics and material and energy flow (MEFA) datasets. Input data for forest and crop harvest were available at NUTS2 (or similar) spatial units and were distributed to the grid level.


The European HANPP maps can be used to evaluate spatial patterns of land use intensity as well as its change in the last 16 years. We find considerable changes that vary across regions, influenced, among others, by political processes such as EU integration. Processes such as land-use intensification or land abandonment are visualized consistently across the EU-24. We discuss the suitability of the dataset for analyzing pressures on terrestrial ecosystems, changes in biodiversity and the terrestrial carbon balance. This will provide useful insights for forging strategies towards more sustainable European land systems.