Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

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Stronger polarization of land use in Europe until 2040, with a loss of multifunctional landscapes

Scenario-based land-change trajectories for the EU until 2040 revealed marked differences with regard to extent and spatial patterns. Results indicate strong polarization trends of land use along with losses of multifunctional landscapes, which have diverging impacts on ecosystem service provisioning.


Simulating and delineating future land change trajectories across Europe 

Julia Stürck | Christian Levers | Emma H. van der Zanden | Catharina J. E. Schulp | Pieter J. Verkerk | Tobias Kuemmerle | John Helming | Hermann Lotze-Campen | Andrzej Tabeau Alexander Popp | Elizabeth Schrammeijer | Peter Verburg


Explorations of future land use change are important to understand potential conflicts between competing land uses, trade-offs associated with particular land change trajectories, and the effectiveness of policies to steer land systems into desirable states. Most model-based explorations and scenario studies focused on conversions in broad land use classes, but disregarded changes in land management or focused on individual sectors only. Using the European Union (EU) as a case study, we developed an approach to identifying typical combinations of land cover and management changes by combining the results of multimodel simulations in the agriculture and forest sectors for four scenarios from 2000 to 2040. We visualized land change trajectories by mapping regional hotspots of change. Land change trajectories differed in extent and spatial pattern across the EU and among scenarios, indicating trajectory-specific option spaces for alternative land system outcomes. In spite of the large variation in the area of change, similar hotspots of land change were observed among the scenarios. All scenarios indicate a stronger polarization of land use in Europe, with a loss of multifunctional landscapes. We analyzed locations subject to change by comparing location characteristics associated with certain land change trajectories. Results indicate differences in the location conditions of different land change trajectories, with diverging impacts on ecosystem service provisioning. Policy and planning for future land use needs to account for the spatial variation of land change trajectories to achieve both overarching and location-specific targets.


Link to the manuscript: DOI: 10.1007/s10113-015-0876-0

Citation: Stürck, J., Levers, C., van der Zanden, E.H., Schulp, C.J.E., Verkerk, P.J., Kuemmerle, T., Helming, J., Lotze-Campen, H., Popp, A., Schrammeijer, E. & Verburg, P.H., 2015. Simulating and visualizing future land change trajectories in Europe. Regional Environmental Change online first, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0876-0.