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Developing an indicator of productive potential to assess land use suitability in New Zealand

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 18:51 authored by Simon Harris, Richard McDowell, Linda Lilburne, Seth LaurensonSeth Laurenson, L. Dowling, Jing Guo, Peter PletnyakovPeter Pletnyakov, Mike Beare, D. Palmer
The Land Use Suitability (LUS) concept informs decision-making by stakeholders with information about the economic and environmental consequences of land use choices. LUS is composed of three indicators describing the inherent productive and economic _msocom_1 potential of land parcels (productive potential), the contribution of a land parcel to lose contaminants relative to other land parcels (relative contribution), and the load of contaminants lost compared to the load that ensures that environmental objectives are met (pressure). This paper outlines an improved indicator of productive potential (PP). We outline the four layers of information that comprise PP for a land parcel: (1) Feasibility, which defines whether the productivity and quality of a crop is enough to allow the land use to be undertaken; (2) Yield, which is the amount of a product or crop that can be grown; (3) Economic returns, given the yield and other requirements for the land parcel; and (4) Economic Importance, which combines information about the economic returns and the probability of a land use being undertaken. These layers can be combined into a single PP indicator of the value of the land for economic use. The PP indicator can be expressed continuously or categorically and mapped at a national scale. When combined with the Relative Contribution and Pressure indicators in the LUS system, it allows for identification of areas which are most suitable for intensification by providing for a direct comparison of the economic and environmental outcomes.


Rights statement

© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No



Journal title

Environmental and Sustainability Indicators




Harris, S., McDowell, R. W., Lilburne, L., Laurenson, S., Dowling, L., Guo, J., … Palmer, D. (2021). Developing an indicator of productive potential to assess land use suitability in New Zealand. Environmental and Sustainability Indicators, 11, 100128. doi:10.1016/j.indic.2021.100128