Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 905–920 | Cite as

Modelling regional land change scenarios to assess land abandonment and reforestation dynamics in the Pyrenees (France)

  • Laure A. Vacquie
  • Thomas Houet
  • Terry L. Sohl
  • Ryan Reker
  • Kristi L. Sayler


Over the last decades and centuries, European mountain landscapes have experienced substantial transformations. Natural and anthropogenic LULC changes (land use and land cover changes), especially agro-pastoral activities, have directly influenced the spatial organization and composition of European mountain landscapes. For the past sixty years, natural reforestation has been occurring due to a decline in both agricultural production activities and rural population. Stakeholders, to better anticipate future changes, need spatially and temporally explicit models to identify areas at risk of land change and possible abandonment. This paper presents an integrated approach combining forecasting scenarios and a LULC changes simulation model to assess where LULC changes may occur in the Pyrenees Mountains, based on historical LULC trends and a range of future socio-economic drivers. The proposed methodology considers local specificities of the Pyrenean valleys, sub-regional climate and topographical properties, and regional economic policies. Results indicate that some regions are projected to face strong abandonment, regardless of the scenario conditions. Overall, high rates of change are associated with administrative regions where land productivity is highly dependent on socio-economic drivers and climatic and environmental conditions limit intensive (agricultural and/or pastoral) production and profitability. The combination of the results for the four scenarios allows assessments of where encroachment (e.g. colonization by shrublands) and reforestation are the most probable. This assessment intends to provide insight into the potential future development of the Pyrenees to help identify areas that are the most sensitive to change and to guide decision makers to help their management decisions.


Pyrenees Land use change Land cover change Land abandonment Mountain landscape Reforestation LULC Model 


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laure A. Vacquie
    • 1
  • Thomas Houet
    • 1
  • Terry L. Sohl
    • 2
  • Ryan Reker
    • 3
  • Kristi L. Sayler
    • 2
  1. 1.GEODE LaboratoryToulouse Jean Jaurès UniversityToulouseFrance
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) CenterSioux FallsUSA
  3. 3.ASRC Federal - InuTeqSioux FallsUSA

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