Agriculture and forestry will become a major player in a sustainable future energy provision for society. This sector manages most of useful area and hence of solar income of society. Thus agriculture and forestry will hold those resources that will substitute fossil and nuclear energy in the long run. Agriculture however can play this role only if the sector itself will change its energy base to a sustainable system and if it uses sustainable production processes. The current project presents implementation steps for the concrete region of eastern Styria to achieve a sustainable agricultural system. Three scenarios (A- short term, B- medium term and C- long term) are discussed. The goal of these scenarios is to achieve sustainable agriculture by 2020.
Currently agriculture and forestry are just an economical sideshow in the region, although eastern Styria is predominantly rural. The sector is dependent on subsidies and has a strong dependency on fossil energy. The analysis however highlights chances for agriculture and forestry to become a major player in the regional economy in the medium and long term. In order to utilise these chances the sector has to engage in regional energy provision for itself, industry and households. The "energy region eastern Styria" has the potential to obtain a high level of self-reliance in terms of energy provision.
Using this opportunity needs a profound and fast re-structuring of agriculture and forestry. The window of opportunity in which the sector can secure a prominent position in the regional energy and raw material provision is narrow and needs consequent action. If this opportunity goes unused agriculture will be diminished to a role of pure raw material producer. Depletion of natural resources and the loss of autonomy in decision making are than, against the backdrop of global competition, very real threats.
The current study presents an encompassing and cross sectoral re-structuring of the regional agriculture, forestry, industry linked to them as well as energy provision for households. Contrary to many sectoral studies of the potential of renewable resources, this study explicitly takes the competition for area and natural resources into account. The results of the project highlight the fact, that a sustainable agricultural sector is only viable on the base of a comprehensive resource plan and the firm political will to execute it. In addition a societal consensus about the "provision duty" of agriculture and forestry with respect to the region (and people) to be served and the services to be supplied is necessary.
A multifunctional and demand oriented agricultural sector, applying sustainable, energy extensive production systems (like mixed cultivation) will become the back bone of eastern Styria in the future. The farmer of the future will become a "regional supplier" who provides goods and services on the base of renewable resources and who has learned to network. He will take shares in regional enterprises, crossing sectoral borders. The provision of energy can shoe-in a broader regional provision system for high quality food and renewable resources for industry, building on the networks between agriculture, industry and consumers generated by regional energy provision. Energy provision alone can be responsible for 10.900 new jobs in the region and can dramatically increase regional revenue. The scenarios developed in the current project have been successfully introduced into the stakeholder discussions about the regional future. They now form the scientific and professional background for the planning of the future in eastern Styria.
Bakk. Birgit Birnstingl-Gottinger
- TU Graz, Institut für nachhaltige und ressourcenschonende Systeme (in Kopperation mit UNI Veszprem) (Werkvertragspartner)
- Technisches Büro NATAN (Werkvertragspartner)
- AEE INTEC (Werkvertragspartner)
- ARGE Kreislaufwirtschaften mit Mischkulturen (Werkvertragspartner)
- Universität Salzburg, Institut für Politikwissenschaft (Werkvertragspartner)
- TB Riebenbauer