Bioenergy to Biodiversity: Downscaling scenarios of land use change
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Bioenergy crops are a key component of Scotland’s strategy to meet 2050 carbon emissions targets. The introduction of these crops could have large scale impacts on the biodiversity of lowland farmland. These impacts depend on the change in land use which in turn is governed by a wide range of social, economic and environmental factors. European scale scenarios have been used to model these factors and estimate future land uses. Divergent cenarios provide narratives that explore the outcome of different policy assumptions and can be used to explore an uncertain future and its potential impacts on biodiversity. Here we focus on SRC willow and Miscanthus as examples of woody and non wood bioenergy crops. The area of land modelled by the European scenarios is downscaled to the land parcel level. To achieve this, a methodology is developed that uses simple allocation rules based on the assumptions of the core scenarios. The results of the downscaling are then used to investigate the impact on biodiversity of different scenario assumptions at 2020 and 2050. The results show that only a small amount of agricultural land may be available in the strictest environmental scenarios. Downscaling reveals different spatial patterns of biodiversity networks arising from divergent policy assumption. Therefore the methodology provides a link between European land use change and landscape scale changes to biodiversity.