The Kick-Off meeting of the EU funded LANDSUPPORT project, officially launched on May 1st, is currently on-going close to Naples. The project partners, an international and complementary group of research centres, SMEs and policy makers, aim to develop an integrated web-based decision support system for the implementation of agricultural and environmental policies.
The LANDSUPPORT research project envisages an open and freely accessible decision support system that enables the evaluation of trade-offs between land uses to support the development of sustainable agriculture, forestry and environmental policies and practices. It will include a combination of user-friendly tools to help determine the impact of land use decisions at multiple scales, through data collection, integration, modelling and analysis.
The coordinator of the project is Prof Fabio Terribile, Director of the CRISP interdepartmental research centre at the University of Naples Federico II: “With LANDSUPPORT, we want to show that the reconciliation of agricultural and environmental goals in land use management is not a wicked, unsolvable problem but a complex challenge that can be addressed by a thorough analysis of the appropriate supporting data.”
An important objective of the project is therefore the integration of already existing databases at different scales with new, high performance modelling engines simulating agriculture & forestry, land degradation and environmental issues. The system will be validated (e.g. crop yield) by remote sensing data and will be based on state of the art technology for the developing environment (i.e. COMPSs), high-performing computing (e.g. GPU) and massive raster data management (e.g. RASDAMAN).
“The main innovation of LANDSUPPORT is that we want to integrate decisions at many geographical scales in one toolset, enabling to align agricultural and environmental sustainability policy ambitions with very local operational realities, which are often neglected”, says Prof Terribile. “To demonstrate this concept, LANDSUPPORT will run testcases at four geographic scales: EU, National (Italy, Hungary, Austria), Regional (an Italian and Hungarian region) and locally (pilot sites in Austria, Italy, Hungary, Tunisia and Malaysia).”
In the meantime, the partners will continuously interact with end users at the different levels that are targeted, to address important expectations head-on and thereby ensure that the final toolset will meet the end user requirements.
Prof. Terribile: “We want our LANDSUPPORT system to remain freely available to the end users after the project and to ensure that it will be used on a much longer term. Perhaps the most important task in the project is therefore to interact with our stakeholders on a regular basis. For example, there will be workshops with end users already during the development phase and trainings will be organized as soon as a first subset of tools is available.”
The LANDSUPPORT project is funded by EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for a total budget of close to 7 million euros. Next to the University of Naples, the other project partners constitute an international group of research centres, policy makers and SMEs with various expertise in the domains of land use, agriculture, environment and geographical data management (full list below).
“Our consortium consists mainly of European partners, from Italy, Austria, Spain, France, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia and Belgium, but also includes international research centres in Lebanon and in Malaysia”, says Prof Terribile.
If successful, the partners believe that this project will no doubt contribute to the implementation and impact of current European land policies as well as the UN sustainable development goals on sustainable cities and communities, climate action and life on land.