Trade-off Analysis on the Expansion of Frontier Agriculture in the Subarctic

By transforming the environmental conditions in the subarctic, climate change is creating an expansion opportunity for frontier agricultural production. In particular, interest is mounting in northern Ontario where there is a combination of warming temperatures that crops can thrive in, relatively inexpensive land prices, and government support for sector growth. The current model of expansion has an economic development focus, which could adversely impact climate change action, northern food security, and the protection of indigenous people’s right to land. There is limited literature exploring these trade-offs and future implications of developing agricultural land in the subarctic.

This model of expansion may become less economically attractive when it is examined with respect to the climate action trade-off, which highlights the need to reduce GHG emissions from land use change and agricultural production. By using a trade-off analysis framework, this research explores GHG management systems and their impact on the economic viability of agricultural expansion in northern Ontario. Management options tested in this framework include offset schemes between farming, land clearing, and stewardship activities operating within a declining agricultural carbon budget. This framework focuses on incorporating and prioritizing GHG reductions within decision-making processes of expansion and production. For example, to stay within the budget, the cost of land clearing and increased production is no longer solely the cost of labor, equipment, and inputs- it is also the cost of GHG emissions and loss/transformation of carbon sinks. This research seeks to identify management solutions in minimizing and avoiding GHG emissions from frontier agriculture.

Monday Poster Session
Lisa Ashton
Related Conference Themes
Land Use