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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

AEZ (Agro-ecological Zones) Methodology
Description The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the collaboration of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), has developed this system, which enables rational land-use planning on the basis of an inventory of land resources and evaluation of biophysical limitations and potentials.

It is anticipated that the AEZ process will be crucial in identifying agricultural and natural resource baselines, and in monitoring how these baselines are being altered. The AEZ methodology also provides a means of identifying how natural resources and agricultural production is likely to be perturbed under future climate scenarios and in identifying suitable crops and locations under future climate scenarios.

Recent availability of digital global databases of climatic parameters, topography, soil and terrain, vegetation, and population distribution has called for revisions and improvements in calculation procedures and in turn has allowed for expanding assessments of AEZ crop suitability and land productivity potentials to temperate and boreal environments.
Appropriate Use Climate change analysis of crop production. It is recommended that users access model results.
Scope AEZ methodology and supporting software packages can be applied at global, regional, national and sub-national levels.
Key Output Maximum potential and agronomically attainable crop yields for basic land resources units (usually grid-cells in the recent digital databases).
Key Input Climate, topography and soil characteristics, and is to a large extent determined by demographic, socioeconomic, cultural, and political factors, such as population density, land tenure, markets, institutions, and agricultural policies.
Ease of Use Expertise in crop systems
Training Required Yes
Training Available See Contacts
Computer Requirements Web-based PC tools
Documentation = 6.
Applications Climate change assessments of agricultural production.
Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance Günther Fischer

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria; Tel: +43.2236.807.0; Fax: +43.2236.71.313; e-mail:
Cost Depends on application
References Batjes, N.H., G. Fischer, F.O. Nachtergaele, V.S. Stolbovoi, and H.T. van Velthuizen. 1997. Soil Data Derived from WISE for Use in Global and Regional AEZ Studies. FAO/IIASA/ ISRIC Report IR-97-025. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.

Fischer, G. and H.T. van Velthuizen. 1996. Climate Change and Global Agricultural Potential Project: A Case Study of Kenya. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria, 96 pp.

Fischer, G. and H.T. van Velthuizen. 1999. Agro-ecological zones of China, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.

Fischer, G and G.K. Heilig. 1997. Population momentum and the demand on land and water resources. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Land. B 352:869-889.

Fischer, G., S. Prieler and H. van Velthuizen. 2005. Biomass potentials of miscanthus, willow and poplar: results and policy implications for Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia. Biomass and Bioenergy 28(2):119-132.