Landscape Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 185–199 | Cite as

An agent-based approach to model land-use change at a regional scale

  • Diego Valbuena
  • Peter H. Verburg
  • Arnold K. Bregt
  • Arend Ligtenberg
Research Article


Land-use/cover change (LUCC) is a complex process that includes actors and factors at different social and spatial levels. A common approach to analyse and simulate LUCC as the result of individual decisions is agent-based modelling (ABM). However, ABM is often applied to simulate processes at local scales, while its application in regional studies is limited. This paper describes first a conceptual framework for ABM to analyse and explore regional LUCC processes. Second, the conceptual framework is represented by combining different concepts including agent typologies, farm trajectories and probabilistic decision-making processes. Finally, the framework is illustrated through a case study in the Netherlands, where processes of farm cessation, farm expansion and farm diversification are shaping the structure of the landscape. The framework is a generic, straightforward approach to analyse and explore regional LUCC with an explicit link to empirical approaches for parameterization of ABM.


Land-use/cover change Decision-making Agent-based modelling Rural regions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diego Valbuena
    • 1
  • Peter H. Verburg
    • 1
  • Arnold K. Bregt
    • 1
  • Arend Ligtenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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