Land cover dynamics in the marginal hilly landscape over the last 230 years (a case study from Polish Eastern Carpathians)

Authors and Affiliations: 

Andrzej Affek

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization PAS

Department of Geoecology and Climatology

Twarda 51/55,

00-818 Warsaw, Poland


Marginal landscapes in Europe have recently undergone profound changes mainly due to land abandonment caused by socioeconomic reasons. Although in the postwar period landscape transformation of vast areas in Central and Eastern Europe had different, strictly political reasons, land abandonment was also in this case, the main direct driving force.

The idea of mono-national countries and nationalization of land have left their mark on the landscape. Polish Eastern Carpathians belong to the regions that suffered the most. The Upper Wiar River Catchment is the study area chosen for detailed analysis. It covers around 230 km2, with the altitude ranging from 290 up to 670 m above sea level and is located about 20 km south of Przemyśl, close to the contemporary Polish - Ukrainian border.

The aim of this study is to identify patterns of land cover change over the last 230 years (covering preindustrial, industrial and postmodern type of landscape) by means of cartographic analysis. Other land system components such as ownership structure, soil type and terrain characteristics served as explanatory variables. The study was carried out in Historical GIS approach using 8 topographic map series with mean scale around 1:25 000.

Exploratory spatiotemporal analysis based on Markov matrices  and GIS geostatistics resulted in identification of patterns of change and factors that shaped landscape transformation. 


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