Integrated Assessment of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Impacts at Landscape Level in the Austrian Mostviertel Region

Martin Schönhart


Climate change poses fundamental challenges on agriculture. It triggers autonomous adaptation responses of famers and thereby impacts the success of climate change mitigation. Integrated modelling frameworks (IMF) on land use serve as decision support instruments under such conditions by considering climate signals and accounting for combined mitigation and adaptation policies. We apply an IMF at the farm level in two contrasting grassland and cropland dominated landscapes in Austria to analyze climate change impacts on land use as well as impacts from mitigation and adaptation policies on the abiotic and biotic environment and the landscape. Results show that the impacts on farm gross margins and the abiotic and biotic environment are substantial either directly from climate change (e.g. changing erosion levels) or triggered via adaptation responses (i.e. land use and management change). Average gross margins increase between 1% and 12% depending on the case study landscape, the climate change scenario, and the policy scenario. With respect to biodiversity indicators, land use changes in the adaptation scenario decrease plant species diversity on farmland by 13% on average and losses are up to 80% for some farms. These changes are driven by policies in the adaptation scenario as responses on climate change in the absence of policies are modest with minor impacts on biodiversity. Results indicate the effectiveness of climate change adaptation in increasing farm incomes and the need to coordinate mitigation and adaptation policies to manage environmental outcomes. The IMF turns out to be effective in revealing heterogeneity of climate change impacts among farms and regions and linkages among adaptation and mitigation policies.

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Co-authors: Thomas Schauppenlehner2, Michael Kuttner3, Mathias Kirchner1, Erwin Schmid1

Institute for Sustainable Economic Development; BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna; 2Institute for Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning; BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences; 3Department of Conservation, Biology, Vegetation Ecology, and Landscape Ecology; University of Vienna

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