Competition for land: a sociometabolic perspective

Competition for land: a sociometabolic perspective
Helmut Haberl
Ecological Economics, Volume 119, Pages 424-431
Possible negative effects of increased competition for land include pressures on biodiversity, rising food prices
and GHG emissions. However, neoclassical economists often highlight positive aspects of competition, e.g. increased
efficiency and innovation. Competition for land occurs when several agents demand the same good or
service produced froma limited area. It implies thatwhen one agent acquires scarce resources from land, less resource
is available for competing agents. The resource competed for is often not land but rather its function for
biomass production,which may be supplanted by other inputs that raise yields. Increased competitionmay stimulate
efficiency but negative environmental effects are likely in the absence of appropriate regulations. Competition
between affluent countries with poor people in subsistence economies likely results in adverse social and
development outcomes if not mitigated through effective policies. The socioecological metabolism approach is
a framework to analyze land-related limits and functions in particular with respect to production and consumption
of biomass and carbon sequestration. It can generate databases that consistently link land usedwith biomass
flows which are useful in understanding interlinkages between different products and services and thereby help
to analyze systemic feedbacks in the global land system.
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