Representing landscape change in land use models: comparing global, European and local assessments

Authors and Affiliations: 

Peter Verburg, David Eitelberg, Marleen Schouten

Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Landscape ecology has provided valuable insights in the relations between spatial structure and the functioning of landscapes. However, in most global scale environmental assessments the representation of landscapes is reduced to the dominant land cover within a 0.5 degree pixel, disregarding the insights about the role of structure, pattern and composition for the functioning of the landscape. This paper discusses the ways in which landscape characteristics can be represented in land use change models operating at scales ranging from the global to local scale. It proposes new directions for representing landscape characteristics at broad spatial scales and illustrates this based on simulations with the global CLUMondo land use model.  For assessments at European scale the paper will discuss how landscape characteristics are represented in the model suite used in the European VOLANTE project. Here models go beyond the traditional representation of land cover changes by explicitly addressing changes in land use intensity, both for agricultural and forestry systems. The dynamics of landscape elements that determine landscape structure in many landscapes are, however, not yet represented in these large scale models. For assessments at local to regional scales the representation of landscape features in multi-agent models will be discussed based on the application of a multi-agent model to a ‘bocage’ landscape region in the eastern part of the Netherlands.

The three land use change modeling approaches at these very different scales will be compared in terms of the ways in which landscape change is represented and the extent to which these approaches can capture the processes important to landscape function in their representation.



Verburg P, van Asselen S, van der Zanden E, Stehfest E: (2013) The representation of landscapes in global scale assessments of environmental change. Landscape Ecology. in press.