Are there currently available lands that are not used for agricultural or other purposes and on which perennial and annual energy crops can be grown? Yes! We share the results of the Bioplat-Eu project. And we emphasize that this is a story about sustainable bioenergy. This study was performed by experts of an international project within the Horizon 2020 Bioplat-EU program. More information is already available on the SAF (Sustainable Agribusiness Forum) platform.
About the project
At the beginning of the project, there was an initial collection of information from local authorities and local communities on available land plots that meet the definition of degraded, unproductive, and contaminated lands.
On the basis of the obtained data, the mapping of degraded, unproductive, and contaminated lands for bioenergy production was conducted due to remote sensing using Geoinformation systems according to the following scheme:
- Review and collection of geospatial data (Copernicus and source data from the primary information collection);
- Creation of a reference set for the classification of degraded, unproductive, and contaminated lands;
- Modeling for LEVEL 1 – maps of degraded, unproductive, and contaminated lands in Ukraine in general;
- Modeling for LEVEL 2 – maps for the most concentrated areas (regional level, two pilots areas).
As can be seen from the scheme above, more than 30,000 plots of lands (with the size of one plot of more than 10 hectares) with a total area of more than 820,000 hectares were identified for Ukraine. The modeling using geoinformation technologies was based on the principle of cascading layers and excluding lands belonging to the categories of forests, built-up lands, water and swamps, protected areas, arable land, as well as other lands unsuitable for bioenergy use (we recommend reading the scheme below).
Appropriate modeling was also performed for two pilot sites, where the minimum area of identified land started from 0.5 ha:
- Ternopil and Khmelnytskyi regions;
- Chernihiv region.
Read about the results of modeling on the SAF platform.
How to classify such lands
Experts of the Bioplat-EU project performed modeling, on the basis of which they made conclusions about the availability of lands for growing energy crops in Ukraine. The following modeling and further mapping were performed for the following land categories:
- Marginal lands are, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), lands that have either biophysical constraints: soil constraints (low fertility, poor drainage, shallow humus, salinity), steep terrain, adverse climatic conditions; or socio-economic constraints: lack of markets, difficult accessibility, limited land use, small plots of land, poor infrastructure, unfavorable productivity ratio.
- Underutilized lands. Within the Bioplat-EU project, the term “underutilized land” describes (mainly, but not exclusively) agricultural land that has not shown any signs of human activity (including no grazing) in the last five years. Given that the Land Code of Ukraine does not contain the term “underutilized land”, the term “unproductive land” was used to describe these categories of lands, the definition of which in the law is close and also belongs to agricultural lands.
- Contaminated lands are defined by EU law as “any land that is likely to be contaminated for reasons related to chemicals contained in/on /underground; significant damage that is present or may be caused; pollution of controlled water that is or may be caused.”
It should be noted that according to UABIO experts, there are about 4 million hectares of unused agricultural lands in Ukraine, suitable for growing energy crops. 0.1% is used.
In addition, information about the new WebGIS tool for assessing the sustainability of bioenergy projects from Bioplat-EU has already been shared.
Source: the article on the SAF platform “Unproductive, degraded and contaminated lands in Ukraine – research”: https://saf.org.ua/en/news/1458/.
It will be recalled that UABIO is a partner of the SAF Ukraine (Sustainable Agribusiness Forum) that was created in 2017 on the initiative and support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).