Agro Zones Simulator Project

May 2011

Agro-ecological Model for Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Agricultural Systems.

In the face of projected changes in climate, the long-term sustainability of agro-ecosystems and associated livelihoods is unattainable without the development of adaptation strategies that incorporate enhanced environmental, social, and economic resilience . Robust and quantitative assessment tools that estimate climate change risks and vulnerabilities, and a range of adaptation actions for a portfolio of development projects are crucial to decision-makers, from stakeholders to policy advisors, in the context of assessing trade-offs and synergies and priorities for resource allocation at macro and micro scales.

The project delivers an agro-ecological zone model, AZS, consisting of land evaluation methods with multiple-criteria and socioeconomic analysis to evaluate spatial and dynamic aspects of agriculture - strengthening national and regional climate change impact assessment capacity in view of appropriate adaptation solutions. Specifically the model:

  • (i) Computes vulnerability maps with regional detail over key climate change and food security hotspots in the region
  • (ii) Analyzes the effectiveness of land-based adaptation, in terms of avoided damage, increased production system capacity and resilience, and including synergies with mitigation.

The AZS model work will include the assembly and linking of the following:

  • (i) Selected agricultural production systems with defined input and management relationships, and crop-specific environmental requirements and adaptability characteristics;
  • (ii) Geo-referenced climate, soil, and terrain data, combined into a land resources database;
  • (iii) Consideration of spatial land use and land cover, including forests, protected areas, population distribution and density, and land required for habitation and infrastructure;
  • (iv) Procedures for calculating agronomic attainable yield and for matching crop environmental and management requirements with the respective environmental characteristics contained in the land resources database, by land unit and grid cell.
  • (v) Assessment of crop suitability and land productivity of cropping systems.
  • (vi) Applications for estimating the land's population supporting capacity, multiple-criteria optimization incorporating socioeconomic and demographic factors of land resource use for sustainable agricultural development.

The key objective is to assemble a user-friendly, simplified, and accessible, web-based AZS-type model with a functional economic interface. By contrast, current state-of-the-art platforms have increasingly become unnecessarily complicated, are increasingly poorly validated, and have proven to be very poorly accessible beyond the specialized researchers who have developed them.