Skip to main content

The destination of arable land in a marginal agricultural landscape in South Portugal: an exploration of land use change determinants

Abstract

This research attempts to investigate what drives three conversions of arable land during the period 1985–2000 in a marginal agricultural landscape in Southern Portugal: afforestation of arable land, abandonment of arable land and regeneration of the agro-silvo-pastoral system. This was done by exploring the associations between these changes and a selection of both biophysical and socio-economic variables in a study area of 44 square km. For each conversion of arable land into one of the three other land use types the descriptive power of the various independent variables were evaluated using logistic regression. By comparing different statistical models (one containing only the biophysical attributes, another model containing only the socio-economic variables and finally a model containing both types of variables) the relative importance of socio-economic and biophysical variables was evaluated. The results show that both the biophysical and socio-economic variables were significantly associated with the occurrences of the land use changes. However, the models containing only the socio-economic variables were stronger related to occurrences of afforestation and regeneration of the montado, whereas the biophysical variables were more related to land abandonment. The landowner type was a significant descriptive variable across all land use change models. The results suggest that local socio-economic factors are significant in explaining the pattern of the conversion of arable land in the study area and for this reason the variety of landowners’ response to the physical conditions deserves more attention in land use change modelling.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  • Alados CL, Pueyo Y, Barrantes O, Escos J, Giner L, Robles AB (2004) Variations in landscape patterns and vegetation cover between 1957 and 1994 in a semiarid Mediterranean ecosystem. Landscape Ecol 19:543–559

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bakker MM, Govers G, Ewert F, Rounsevell M, Jones R (2005a) Variability in regional wheat yields as a function of climate, soil and economic variables: assessing the risk of confounding. Agr Ecosyst Environ 110:195–209

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bakker MM, Govers G, Kosmas C, Vanacker V, Oost Kv, Rounsevell M (2005b) Soil erosion as a driver of land-use change. Agr Ecosyst Environ 105:467–481

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baudry J, Tatoni T (1993) Changes in landscape patterns and vegetation dynamics in Provence, France. Landscape Urban Plan 24:153–159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baudry J, Laurent C, Thenail C, Denis D, Burel F (1999) Driving factors of land-use diversity and landscape patterns at multiple scales-a case study in Normandy, France. In: Kronert R, Baudry J, Bowler IR, Reenberg A (eds) Land-use changes and their environmental impact in rural areas in Europe. UNESCO, Paris, pp 103–120

    Google Scholar 

  • Bender O, Boehmer JA, Jens D, Schumacher KP (2005) Using GIS to analyse long-term cultural landscape change in Southern Germany. Landscape Urban Plan 70:111–125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brandt J, Primdahl J, Reenberg A (1999) Rural land-use and landscape dynamics-analysis of ’driving forces’ in space and time. In: Kronert R, Baudry J, Bowler IR, Reenberg A (eds) Land-use changes and their environmental impact in rural areas in Europe. UNESCO, Paris, pp 81–102

    Google Scholar 

  • Burgi M, Hersperger AM, Schneeberger N (2004) Driving forces of landscape change-current and new directions. Landscape Ecol 19:857–868

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Casimiro PC (2003) Análise Quantitativa da Paisagem, Evolução Temporal de Padrões Espaciais-Concelho de Mertola. Revista GeoInova-Revista do Departamento de Geografia e Planeamento Regional 6:59–84

    Google Scholar 

  • Doorn v A (in press) Extensification trends in Mediterranean land use systems: does the landscape homogenisation dogma apply? A landscape change study (1958–2000) in the Portuguese Alentejo. J Mediterr Ecol (in press)

  • Fernandez Ales R, Martin A, Ortega F, Enrique EA (1992) Recent changes in landscape structure and function in a Mediterranean region of South West Spain. Landscape Ecol 7:3–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gonzalez Bernaldez F (1991) Ecological consequences of the abandonment of traditional land use systems in central Spain. Options Méditerranéenes, Série Séminaires 15Land abandonment and its role in conservation, pp 23–29

  • Instituto Geográfico do Exercito (1989) Carta Militar de Portugal 1:25K series M888 nr 541, Lisbon

  • Jongman RHG (1997) Ecological and landscape consequences of land use change in Europe. Proceedings of the First ECNC Seminar on Land Use Change and its Ecological Consequences. ECNC, Tilburg

  • Jongman RHG, Ter Braak CJF, Tongeren OFR (1995) Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Kristensen SP, Thenail C, Kristensen L (2001) Farmers’ involvement in landscape activities: an analysis of the relationship between farm location, farm characteristics and landscape changes in two study areas in Jutland, Denmark. J Environ Manage 61:301–318

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kristensen L, Thenail C, Kristensen SP (2004) Landscape changes in agrarian landscapes in the 1990s: the interaction between farmers and the farmed landscape. A case study from Jutland, Denmark. J Environ Manage 71:231–244

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lambin EF (2004) Linking socio-economic and remote sensing data at the community or at the household level. In: Fox J (eds) People and the environment: approaches for linking household and community surveys to remote sensing and GIS. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 223–240

    Google Scholar 

  • Lambin EF, Turner BL, Geist HJ, Agbola SB, Angelsen A, Bruce JW, Coomes OT, Dirzo R, Fischer G, Folke C (2001) The causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the myths. Global Environ Chang 11:261–269

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lillesand TM, Kiefer RW (1994) Remote sensing and image interpretation. John Wiley & sons, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Moreira F, Rego FC, Ferreira PG (2001) Temporal (1958–1995) pattern of change in a cultural landscape of north western Portugal: implications for fire occurrence. Landscape Ecol 16:557–567

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mottet A, Ladet S, Coque N, Gibon A (2006) Agricultural land-use change and its drivers in mountain landscapes: a case study in the Pyrenees. Agr Ecosyst Environ 114:296–310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pan D, Domon G, de Blois S, Bouchard A (1999) Temporal (1958–1993) and spatial patterns of land use changes in Haut-Saint-Laurent (Quebec, Canada) and their relation to landscape physical attributes. Landscape Ecol 14:35–52

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pinto-Correia T (1993a) Land abandonment: Changes in the land use patterns around the Mediterranean basin. Options Méditerranéennes, The situation of agriculture in Mediterranean countries 1(2):97–112

    Google Scholar 

  • Pinto-Correia T (1993b) Threatened landscape in Alentejo, Portugal: the ’Montado’ and other ’agro-silvo-pastoral’ systems. Landscape Urban Plan 24:43–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pinto-Correia T, Breman B, Jorge V, Dneboska M (2006) Estudo sobre o Abandono em Portugal Continental. Análise das dinámicas da Ocupação do Solo, do Sector Agrícola e da Comunidade Rural. Tipologia de Areas Rurais. Universidade de Évora, Évora, pp 1–211

  • Poudevigne I, Alard D (1997) Landscape and agricultural patterns in rural areas: a case study in the Brionne Basin, Normandy, France. J Environ Manage 50: 335–349

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rounsevell MDA, Ewert F, Reginster I, Leemans R, Carter TR (2005) Future scenarios of European agricultural land use: II. projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Agr Ecosyst Environ 107:117–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roxo MJ, Mourao JM, Casimiro PC (1998) Políticas agrícolas, mudanças de uso do solo e degradação dos recursos naturais-Baixo Alentejo Interior. Mediterraneo 12/13:167–189

    Google Scholar 

  • Van der Ploeg JD (1994) Styles of farming: an introductory note on concepts andmethodology. In: Van der Ploeg JD, Long A (eds) Born from within. Van Gorcum, Assen, pp 7–30

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The work presented in this paper was carried out as part of the EU funded Fifth Framework project VISTA (EVK2-2001-00356 - Vulnerability of Ecosystem Services to land use change in traditional agricultural landscapes). The Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (F.C.T) provided the PhD-scholarship for Anne van Doorn. The authors would like to thank António Mira, Bas Breman and Teresa Pinto Correia from the University of Évora, Richard Aspinall from the Arizona State University and Ademola Braimoh from the United Nations University for their valuable contributions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anne M. Van Doorn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Van Doorn, A.M., Bakker, M.M. The destination of arable land in a marginal agricultural landscape in South Portugal: an exploration of land use change determinants. Landscape Ecol 22, 1073–1087 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-007-9093-7

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-007-9093-7

Keywords

  • Descriptive variables
  • Logistic regression
  • Socio-economic drivers
  • Landowner typology
  • Mediterranean landscapes