Trajectories of Land Use Change in Europe: A Model-based Exploration of Rural Futures

Landscape Ecology 25(2): 217-232

Peter H. Verburg, Derek B. van Berkel, Anne M. van Doorn, Michiel van Eupen, and Harm A. R. M. van den Heiligenberg

“Land use change is characterized by a high diversity of change trajectories depending on the local conditions, regional context and external influences. Policy intervention aims to counteract the negative consequences of these changes and provide incentives for positive developments. Region typologies are a common tool to cluster regions with similar characteristics and possibly similar policy needs. This paper provides a typology of land use change in Europe at a high spatial resolution based on a series of different scenarios of land use change for the period 2000–2030. A series of simulation models ranging from the global to the landscape level are used to translate scenario conditions in terms of demographic, economic and policy change into changes in European land use pattern. A typology developed based on these simulation results identifies the main trajectories of change across Europe: agricultural abandonment, agricultural expansion and urbanization. The results are combined with common typologies of landscape and rurality. The findings indicate that the typologies based on current landscape and ruralities are poor indicators of the land use dynamics simulated for the regions. It is advocated that typologies based on (simulated) future dynamics of land change are more appropriate to identify regions with potentially similar policy needs.”