A multi-scale, multi-model approach for analyzing the future dynamics of European land use
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- Verburg, P.H., Eickhout, B. & van Meijl, H. Ann Reg Sci (2008) 42: 57. doi:10.1007/s00168-007-0136-4
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Europe’s rural areas are expected to witness massive and rapid changes in land use due to changes in demography, global trade, technology and enlargement of the European Union. Changes in demand for agricultural products and agrarian production structure are likely to have a large impact on landscape quality and the value of natural areas. Most studies address these changes either from a macro-economic perspective focusing on changes in the agricultural sector or from a local perspective by analyzing recent changes in landscapes for small case studies. This paper describes a methodology in which a series of models has been used to link global level developments influencing land use to local level impacts. It is argued that such an approach is needed to properly address the processes at different scales that give rise to the land use dynamics in Europe. An extended version of the global economic model (GTAP) and an integrated assessment model (IMAGE) are used to calculate changes in demand for agricultural areas at the country level while a spatially explicit land use change model (CLUE-s) was used to translate these demands to land use patterns at 1 km2 resolution. The global economic model ensures an appropriate treatment of macro-economic, demographic and technology developments and changes in agricultural and trade policies influencing the demand and supply for land use related products while the integrated assessment model accounts for changes in productivity as result of climate change and global land allocation. The land use change simulations at a high spatial resolution make use of country specific driving factors that influence the spatial patterns of land use, accounting for the spatial variation in the biophysical and socio-economic environment. Results indicate the large impact abandonment of agricultural land and urbanization may have on future European landscapes. Such results have the potential to support discussions on the future of the rural area and identify hot-spots of landscape change that need specific consideration. The high spatial and thematic resolution of the results allows the assessment of impacts of these changes on different environmental indicators, such as carbon sequestration and biodiversity. The global assessment allows, at the same time, to account for the tradeoffs between impacts in Europe and effects outside Europe.