Munich, Berlin, Vienna and Klagenfurt, 30th October 2012

The research project “Save our Surface”, funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Funds, analyse the preconditions and consequences of growing biomass use against the backdrop of increasing land use conflicts. Now the final report has been completed. With “Save our Surface”, a project of a rare degree of interdisciplinarity has ended, resumes project coordinator Mag. Andreas Exner of EB&P Umweltbüro GmbH.

Eight project partners and six further collaborators from the technical sciences, from agricultural and forestry, ecology, economy and social science were part of the consortium: energieautark consulting gmbh (Dr. Ernst Schriefl), TU Vienna / Energy Economics Group (Dr. Gerald Kalt, Dr. Lukas Kranzl), LFZ Raumberg-Gumpenstein (Doz. Karl Buchgraber, Dr. Andreas Schaumberger), Karl-Franzens-University Graz / Wegener Center (Ass.-Prof. Andreas Gobiet, DI Thomas Mendlik, Michael Beham), Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH (Dr. Werner Zittel), BOKU / Department of Forest and Soil Sciences (Prof. Manfred J. Lexer, DI Stefan Schöghuber, DI Werner Rammer, DI Georg Kindermann), University of Klagenfurt / IFF / Institute of Social Ecology(Mag. Christian Lauk); Prof. em. Peter Fleissner, Prof. em. Elmar Altvater, Dr. Margot Geiger, Dr. Günter Wind (pansol), Mag. Jakob Schaumberger, Mag. Franz Nahrada (Verein GIVE).

The core of “Save our Surface” was the modelling of preconditions of self-sufficiency of Austria in the provision of food and biomass for both energetic and material uses until 2050. Self-sufficiency could be possible if area yields remain constant at least, if energy and material consumption is reduced significantly as well as consumption of animal products. Gras, straw and wood would have to be used predominantly as biogenic raw materials.

Climate policies as well as increasing scarcity and rising prices of fossile resources (e.g. peak oil) make a far reaching change of the resource base necessary. The use of non-renewable resources must be curtailed. Technologies using renewable resources have to expand, while the use of biomass has to consider biophysical possibilities (according to a ranking of priorities from food over materials to energy). Increasing demands for agriculture and forestry lead to land use competition. This could be exacerbated by climate change and peak oil.

A socio-economic adaptation is thus necessary, enabling to minimize land use competition due to the production of biofuels. Adaptation requires a drastic reduction of energy consumption and economic output which is can be achieved only by a profound reorganization of socio-economic structures towards de-growth solidarity, supported by sectoral measures.

De-growth solidarity has to be pursued on three levels: (1) democratic emergency plans must be set up to cushion immediate negative effects of peak oil. (2) Sectoral adaptations and (3) a structural change of the economy towards a commons-based solidarity economy allow to de-grow. To this aim, radical social innovations such as commons or co-operatives are important.

The project has resulted in a wide range of publications. 2013 “Land and Resource Scarcity” will appear at Routledge:

Sectoral reports of “Save our Surface” in German can be downloaded here: The final report (in German) will be available here:

Contact:Project coordinator Mag. Andreas Exner  – Tel. +43 (0)699 15 16 61 48, e-mail:

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