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Before introducing a new crop in an area, such as medicinal plant species, crop-land suitability analysis is a prerequisite to achieve an optimum exploitation of the available land resources for a sustainable agricultural production. To evaluate the land suitability it is important to take into account the habitats of the plant species. Moreover, agronomic, logistic and product quality aspects have to be considered. The importance of these aspects changes according to the stakeholders: the local government is more involved in supporting environmental suitability and production sustainability, farmers need areas which satisfy agronomic and logistic requirements, while industry is interested in the quality of production. A methodology was developed and implemented to create suitability maps for medicinal plants. Because of the generally limited information about medicinal plant adaptation, a simple methodology, based on a priori information has been developed, based on three different criteria: i) environmental suitability (point of view of local government); ii) agronomic, productivity and logistic suitability (point of view of the farmer); iii) quality suitability (point of view of industry). For each of the three criteria, a specific macro-indicator, based on land characteristics, was calculated using membership functions. Here, a methodology to create maps for the introduction of such species was developed and implemented. This methodology can be repeated by command scripts in an easy-to-use freeware GIS. The structure of the evaluation model can be easily adapted to consider more detailed land information like climate and soil. The methodology (implemented by scripts in a freeware GIS), can be easily repeated and adapted for other situations.
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