Assessing the impact of macro-level policy driven land use changes on regional sustainability is an important task that can facilitate complex decision making processes of introducing reforms. The research work demonstrates the ability of Sustainability Impact Assessment Tool (SIAT), a meta-model, in conducting ex ante spatially explicit cross sectoral impact assessments of changes in common agricultural policy (CAP).
The meta-model is able to appraise impacts of CAP amendments on land use and their repercussions on multiple indicators of sustainability. The presented study comprehensively analyses the possible impacts of discontinuing direct ?nancial support to farmers under CAP. The simulations of the meta-model are able to reveal the land use changes both at EU and regional levels as well as to bring forth the subsequent changes in a number of indicators representing the regional sustainability (for five case study regions).
In a nutshell, the simulations indicate that a reduction in direct support brings in general, a decrease in farmed area, an increase in forested land, less ?uctuation in natural vegetation coverage, increase in abandoned arable land area and negligible changes in built-up area despite regionally diverging land use trends. The simulated changes in sustainability indicators for the study regions in consequence to these land use changes show that the discontinuation of subsidies evokes responses that are in general climate friendly (reduction in methane and N2O emissions, diminishing energy use and reduction in global warming potential), economically bene?cial (increase in gross value of agriculture) and socially desired (decrease in unemployment rate) as well as environmentally harmful (increase in pesticide use).
Even though the appraisals of diversity indicators such as forest deadwood and farmland birds are not conclusive for all regions, the changes are positive for the former indicator and slightly negative for the latter in general. The trade-offs among these regional sustainability indicators using their directional associations are also presented for a comprehensive assessment of the impacts.