PLANGEA: Strategic Land Use Planning

The International Institute for Sustainability (IIS) has been developing a multi-criteria approach to optimise the spatial planning of ecosystem restoration, conservation and conversion actions since 2013. Our approach identifies the most suitable locations for the implementation of these actions through linear programming, taking into account customisable criteria for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and cost minimisation.

The research resulted in the creation of PLANGEA, a decision support platform that integrates multiple criteria, benefits, costs, legal considerations and decision-making across all terrestrial ecosystems. In addition to being flexible, the platform undergoes continuous development, thus allowing the inclusion of new metrics to improve multi-criteria optimisation and accuracy in identifying priority areas for restoration, conservation and agricultural conversion. The impacts considered in the prioritisation are also quantified individually for the metrics used.

PLANGEA works with different scenarios, making it possible to compare results between different goals, targets and objectives. This approach allows evaluating alternative global scenarios for restoration goals or other efforts to increase natural areas and protect nature. Furthermore, the possibility of performing multi-scale analysis makes it useful to guide the implementation of regional and local goals, offering customised solutions based on the preferences of decision-makers.

From the results of this modeling, an interactive map was developed to facilitate and support the strategic planning of land use. The map's user-friendly online interface allows the user to simulate and visualise its results applied to different targets and scenarios on a national or global scale.

Currently, the interactive map encompasses up to three sets of metrics in its optimisation. In the context of biodiversity conservation, the reduction of species extinction debt, the reduction of ecoregions vulnerability and the reduction of ecosystems integrity impact were modeled. Additionally, climate change mitigation was evaluated through the net values of carbon sequestration (restoration) and emission (conversion). In addition, the land opportunity cost for lost benefits from agricultural commodities on farmland and cultivated pastures and the restoration implementation cost in each country were aggregated.

Ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts are assigned to address the world's greatest challenges, such as biodiversity conservation and climate regulation. Meeting national and international commitments would ease these global challenges, but could displace food production and impose financial costs on farmers. This multi-criteria approach reveals these synergies and trade-offs, incorporating ecological and economic efficiencies into planning and policy choice.

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The data on this platform is provided by the International Institute for Sustainability (IIS) in collaboration with our donors. This output has been funded in part by the UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund under the Trade, Development and the Environment Hub project (TRADE Hub, project number ES/S008160/1).