Landscape Ecology

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 857–868 | Cite as

Driving forces of landscape change — current and new directions

  • Matthias Bürgi
  • Anna M. Hersperger
  • Nina Schneeberger


The concept of driving forces is gaining increasing attention in landscape-change research. We summarize the state of the art of this field and present new conceptual and methodological directions for the study of driving forces of landscape changes. These new directions address four major challenges faced by landscape-change studies, i.e., studying processes and not merely spatial patterns, extrapolating results in space and time, linking data of different qualities, and considering culture as a driver of landscape change. The proposed research directions include: studying landscape change across borders and transects, focusing on persistence as well as change, investigating rates of change, considering attractors of landscape change, targeting correlation and causality, and searching for precursors of landscape change. Based on established knowledge and the new approaches we outline a standard procedure to study driving forces of landscape change. We anticipate that our analytical and systematic approach increases the relevance of studies of landscape change for science as well as for the solution of real world problems.

Land-use planning Land-use and land-cover change Landscape history Persistence Precursors of change Standard procedure 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Bürgi
    • 1
  • Anna M. Hersperger
    • 1
  • Nina Schneeberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Institute of ForestSnow and Landscape Research (WSL)BirmensdorfSwitzerland (

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