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Systemic monitoring and modeling of the bioeconomy


SIMOBIO is a collaborative project to develop scientific foundations for systemic monitoring and modeling of the bioeconomy (BÖ) in Germany. The BÖ is understood to be the part of the economy that produces, processes, consumes and utilizes biogenic products: starting with agriculture, forestry and fisheries to the processing of renewable raw materials, the use of biotechnological processes or the furniture trade to waste management and the extraction of bioenergy.

The German government plans to develop a regular monitoring of the BÖ as a basis for a well-founded policy-making and public debate. It is to make both potentials and undesirable developments visible. Regular reports are also intended to raise public awareness of the issue of BÖ.

Goals and procedure

In a pilot phase (project phase 1) of three years, the scientific basis for the monitoring was developed. The environmental impacts of the bioeconomy along the entire production chain are examined. For this purpose, the total resource use, environmental and climate impacts by the bio-based economic sectors and their total economic performance are recorded and balanced. The aim of this study is to bring together the different aspects of the BÖ in a systemic monitoring system:

  1. Define a suitable framework for systemic BoE monitoring.
  2. To develop a model system for quantifying and evaluating the performance of the German boe in terms of sustainability on a national and international level
  3. To assess the possible future development of key drivers for the transformation of the boe
  4. To model the future development of the German boE and its environmental, economic and social impacts, including footprints
  5. To analyze the conceptual approach of certification schemes
  6. Produce a pilot monitoring report and develop a learning monitoring system that can be updated, including remote sensing, and a web tool that informs users about the key features of the boE.

Innovations and perspectives

In project phase 1, the FG GNR collaborated in two work packages on "Sustainable agricultural cropping systems for the production of feedstocks for the bioeconomy" and "Remote sensing assessment of the impact of an expansion of biogas production on the diversity of agricultural cropping systems".

An innovative method was developed to detect land use changes and different intensities of land management based on Landsat and Sentinel-2 imagery. The method was tested in a study area in northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony to observe the conversion of grassland to cropland over time. The results showed an increase in corn acreage and a decrease in grassland, which can be attributed to the increase in bioenergy production. However, the satellite data models developed should be further improved and validated for different regions in order to use remote sensing as a tool for monitoring land use and land cover changes due to bioeconomy activities.

In the second phase of the project, land use and land cover change due to BÖ activities will be monitored in a larger area in Germany using time series satellite data. The transferability of the model from one region to another will be evaluated.