Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 2561–2578 | Cite as

Land use and land cover changes in small Carpathian catchments between the mid-19th and early 21st centuries and their record on the land surface

  • Rafał KroczakEmail author
  • Joanna Fidelus-Orzechowska
  • Anna Bucała-Hrabia
  • Tomasz Bryndal


Land use and land cover (LULC) changes and their impact on the mountain environment were studied in six catchments (~10 km2 each) in the Polish Western Carpathians from the mid-19th century to the early 21st century. The analysis of cadastral and orthophoto maps indicates that during the investigated period, the forest area increased, quantified by an annual change index (Annch), between +0.12% to +0.27%, with a decrease of arable land index to–0.45% and–2.28% in the analysed catchments. LULC changes were accompanied by a continuous increase in settlement developments (residential and farming houses) by 50%-140% as well as significant changes related to their spatial distribution. Abandonment of arable land and forest succession have resulted in the geomorphological transformation of hillslopes, which predominantly includes a decrease in used road density, their transformation to road cuts and gorges. Overpopulation and the domination agriculture in the past caused the expansion of unpaved roads density and then the fragmentation of hillslopes, as well as the development of agricultural terraces.


Land use and land cover (LULC) Cut roads Agricultural terraces Polish Carpathians 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of GeographyPedagogical University of CracowKrakówPoland
  2. 2.Department of Geoenvironmental ResearchInstitute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of SciencesKrakówPoland

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