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Arizona State University (ASU) 2020

Underutilized Spaces and Marginal Lands for Sustainable Land Use : A Multi-Scale Analysis


Titre : Underutilized Spaces and Marginal Lands for Sustainable Land Use : A Multi-Scale Analysis

Auteur : ULUDERE ARAGON, Nazli Zeynep

Université de soutenance : Arizona State University (ASU)

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2020

Drawn from a trio of manuscripts, this dissertation evaluates the sustainability contributions and implications of deploying underutilized spaces for alternative uses at multiple scales : urban, regional and continental. The first paper considers the use of underutilized spaces at the urban scale for urban agriculture (UA) to meet local sustainability goals in Phoenix, Arizona. Through a data-driven analysis, it demonstrates UA can meet 90% of annual demand for fresh produce, supply local produce in all food deserts, reduce areas underserved by public parks by 60%, and displace >50,000 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions from buildings.

The second paper considers marginal agricultural land use for bioenergy crop cultivation to meet future liquid fuels demand from cellulosic biofuels sustainably and profitably. At a wholesale fuel price of $4 gallons-of-gasoline-equivalent, 30 to 90.7 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels can be supplied by converting 22 to 79.3 million hectares of marginal lands in the Eastern United States (U.S.). Displacing marginal croplands (9.4-13.7 million hectares) reduces stress on water resources by preserving soil moisture. This displacement is comparable to existing land use for first-generation biofuels, limiting food supply impacts. Coupled modeling reveals positive hydroclimate feedback on bioenergy crop yields that moderates the land footprint.

The third paper examines the sustainability implications of expanding use of marginal lands for corn cultivation in the Western Corn Belt, a commercially important and environmentally sensitive U.S. region. Corn cultivation on lower quality lands, which tend to overlap with marginal agricultural lands, is shown to be nearly three times more sensitive to changes in crop prices. Therefore, corn cultivation disproportionately expanded into these lands following price spikes.

Underutilized spaces can contribute towards sustainability at small and large scales in a complementary fashion. While supplying fresh produce locally and delivering other benefits in terms of energy use and public health, UA can also reduce pressures on croplands and complement non-urban food production. This complementarity can help diversify agricultural land use for meeting other goals, like supplying biofuels. However, understanding the role of market forces and economic linkages is critical to anticipate any unintended consequences due to such re-organization of land use.

Sujets : Geography / biofuels / coupled environmental-economic modeling / data-driven analysis / sustainable land management / underutilized lands / urban agriculture


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Page publiée le 11 novembre 2020