Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 123–133 | Cite as

Abandoned altitudes? Decrease and expansion of grassland in the hinterland of Popayán, Southern Colombian Andes

  • Andreas HallerEmail author
  • Oliver Bender


Due to their ecological disadvantages, many mountain regions have experienced land-use abandonment and shrub encroachment on former grassland at higher altitudinal zones-especially during recent decades of urbanization. But does this trend also apply to the hinterland of urban settlements? By using the Southern Colombian example of Popayán, a medium-sized city located in the Northern Andes, we can show that the landscape changes observed between 1989 and 2010 can hardly be related to agricultural abandonment. Hypsometric variations of land-cover change indicate that, until 2001, woods or shrubland expanded faster at the lower altitudinal range adjacent to the city than at the more remote higher zones. In contrast, after 2001 grassland areas increased on former woods or shrubland at all altitudinal belts. Both periods thus present developments that can be interpreted as the result of land-use expansion below 2000 m asl and land-use persistence in the tierra fría of the mountain city’s hinterland.


Land-cover change Land-use change Rural-urban linkages Northern Andes 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain ResearchAustrian Academy of SciencesInnsbruckAustria

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