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Analyzing the global human appropriation of net primary production -- processes, trajectories, implications. An introduction

By Karl-Heinz Erb, Fridolin Krausmann, Veronika Gaube, Simone Gingrich, Alberte Bondeau, Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl

Abstract

Humanity's role in shaping patterns and processes in the terrestrial biosphere is large and growing. Most of the earth's fertile land is used more or less intensively by humans for resource extraction, production, transport, consumption and waste deposition or as living space. Biomass production on cropland, grazing areas and in managed forests dominates area requirements, but other processes such as soil degradation, human-induced fires and expansion of settlements and infrastructure play an increasingly important role as well. The growing human domination of terrestrial ecosystems contributes to biodiversity loss as well as to a reduced capability of ecosystems to deliver vital services such as buffering capacity, soil conservation or self-regulation. This special section is devoted to the presentation of recent research into the patterns, determinants and implications of the human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP), an integrated socio-ecological indicator of land use intensity. By measuring the combined effect of land conversion and biomass harvest on the availability of trophic energy (biomass) in ecosystems, HANPP explicitly links natural with socioeconomic processes and allows for integrated analyses of land systems. This introductory article explains the rationale that links current HANPP research to Ecological Economics and discusses issues of definition and methods shared by all articles included in the special section. Finally, it gives an overview of the individual papers, provides some general conclusions and presents an outlook for future research: a better understanding of long-term trajectories of HANPP, of the significance of trade patterns as well as of the future role of bioenergy are highlighted as important issues to be addressed in the coming years.Human appropriation of net primary production Biophysical indicators Land use Biomass flows Socioeconomic drivers Strong sustainability

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