Linking food and land system research in Europe

Markus A. Meyer*, Andrea Früh-Müller, Isabella Lehmann, N. Schwarz

*Corresponding author for this work

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Food-system studies often assess dynamics in production, consumption or processing and logistics in a spatially abstract manner. Land-system studies traditionally analyze land-use/land cover change with its environmental and societal drivers as well as impacts and are typically spatially explicit. Primary production is a main node where food and land systems overlap. We used a systematic literature review to determine how existing studies in Europe address the interface of food and land systems. We identified three pathways of studies: economic, footprint and crop modeling studies (pathway 1), and scenario-based land-use/land-cover change and remote sensing studies (pathway 2), and (qualitative) policy studies (pathway 3). The reviewed studies only partially integrate land- and food-system research. Most of these studies are stronger on the land- than on the food-system side and miss processing as well as distribution and sales. In addition, major linkages between land and food systems are implemented deterministically in the reviewed studies (e.g., through static land requirements for diets). Here, the role of actors and dynamic models considering systemic feedbacks could improve the realisms of studies. Therefore, this study develops a framework to reveal the interplay between food- and land-system research. It focusses on urban-rural linkages as both research strands analyze major processes at this interface: the rural-urban exchange of food and urban sprawl. Future research should especially address and quantify governance, which is hardly quantified to date. Urban-rural linkages are weakly considered in the reviewed literature and if considered only from an urban perspective. Thereby, it would be interesting to study to which extent rural population and governance shape urban-rural-linkages, and how a change of focus from rural to urban areas could provide additional insights.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106692
JournalLand use policy
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023




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