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Land, Volume 4, Issue 4 (December 2015), Pages 914-1231

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Research

Open AccessArticle Simulation vs. Definition: Differing Approaches to Setting Probabilities for Agent Behaviour
Land 2015, 4(4), 914-937; doi:10.3390/land4040914
Received: 30 April 2015 / Revised: 11 September 2015 / Accepted: 23 September 2015 / Published: 25 September 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (4709 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
While geographers and economists regularly work together on the development of land-use and land-cover change models, research on how differences in their modelling approaches affects the results is rare. Answering calls for more coordination between the two disciplines in order to build models
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While geographers and economists regularly work together on the development of land-use and land-cover change models, research on how differences in their modelling approaches affects the results is rare. Answering calls for more coordination between the two disciplines in order to build models that better represent the real world, we (two economists and a geographer) developed an economically grounded, spatially explicit, agent-based model to explore the effects of environmental policy on rural land use in New Zealand. This inter-disciplinary collaboration raised a number of differences in modelling approach. One key difference, and the focus of this paper, is the way in which processes that shape the behaviour of agents are integrated within the model. Using the model and a nationally representative survey, we compare the land-use effects of two disciplinary-aligned approaches to setting a farmer agent’s likelihood of land-use conversion. While we anticipated that the approaches would significantly affect model outcomes, at a catchment scale they produced similar trends and results. However, further analysis at a sub-catchment scale suggests the approach to setting the likelihood of land-use conversion does matter. While the results outlined here will not fully resolve the disciplinary differences, they do outline the need to account for heterogeneity in the predicted agent behaviours for both disciplines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Using an Agroecosystem Services Approach to Assess Tillage Methods: A Case Study in the Shikma Region
Land 2015, 4(4), 938-956; doi:10.3390/land4040938
Received: 1 June 2015 / Revised: 21 September 2015 / Accepted: 21 September 2015 / Published: 2 October 2015
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Abstract
The use of ecosystem services (ES) in agricultural management is expanding; however, its integration in decision making processes is still challenging. This project was formulated to examine the ES approach and its usefulness with regard to management dilemmas. The Shikma region, north of
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The use of ecosystem services (ES) in agricultural management is expanding; however, its integration in decision making processes is still challenging. This project was formulated to examine the ES approach and its usefulness with regard to management dilemmas. The Shikma region, north of the Negev Desert, was chosen as a case study. The management issue identified was the effect of various alternatives (minimum-tillage, no-tillage, straw-mulch and stubble-grazing) on the supply of ES. The expert-based ES assessments’ findings reveal that no-tillage has the potential to increase many agroecosystem services and be more profitable for the farmer and the public. However, trade-offs between different ES and among stakeholder groups make it difficult to reach an unequivocal conclusion. As we have found, the process of the study is as important as the results. Throughout the project, an effort was made to engage stakeholders and policy-makers and to define decision-making processes. The study suggests that the ES approach can be useful in expanding the scope of agricultural management beyond provisioning services and create collaborations among farmers, communities, national institutions and environmental organizations to advance conservation agriculture. The study provides guidelines for conducting a productive ES assessment process that will lead to enhanced awareness and implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agro(Eco)System Services—Supply and Demand from Fields to Society)
Open AccessArticle Growing City and Rapid Land Use Transition: Assessing Multiple Hazards and Risks in the Pokhara Valley, Nepal
Land 2015, 4(4), 957-978; doi:10.3390/land4040957
Received: 10 July 2015 / Revised: 18 September 2015 / Accepted: 29 September 2015 / Published: 13 October 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (9310 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pokhara is one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world with a unique geological setting. This important tourist city is under intense pressure from rapid urbanization and population growth. Multiple hazards and risks are rapidly increasing in Pokhara due to unsustainable
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Pokhara is one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world with a unique geological setting. This important tourist city is under intense pressure from rapid urbanization and population growth. Multiple hazards and risks are rapidly increasing in Pokhara due to unsustainable land use practices, particularly the increase in built-up areas. This study examines the relationship among urbanization, land use/land cover dynamics and multiple hazard and risk analysis of the Pokhara valley from 1990 to 2013. We investigate some of the active hazards, such as floods, landslides, fire, sinkholes, land subsidence and earthquakes, and prepare an integrated multiple hazard risk map indicating the highly vulnerable zones. Land use and land cover maps from 1990 and 2013 from Landsat images (30 m resolution) have been prepared and analyzed for the spatial dynamics of urbanization and the transition of land use and land cover. In the 23-year period, the built-up area more than doubled from 24.03 km² to 54.20 km². Although the landscape in the urban, peri-urban and rural areas appears to be fragmented, different drivers play pivotal roles in landscape change in these areas. The results provide substantial information for establishing innovative action plans for disaster risk management in the valley. Recommendations are made for the most suitable places for future urban expansion in the valley. This study is important for raising awareness among policy makers and other public officials to include multiple hazard risk mitigation in land use policies and plans. Establishing connections between urban expansions, escalating population growth and multiple hazards and risk assessment will also improve in modelling the latent impact of future catastrophes and emergency preparedness. Full article
Open AccessArticle Why Don’t More Farmers Go Organic? Using A Stakeholder-Informed Exploratory Agent-Based Model to Represent the Dynamics of Farming Practices in the Philippines
Land 2015, 4(4), 979-1002; doi:10.3390/land4040979
Received: 17 January 2015 / Revised: 27 August 2015 / Accepted: 13 October 2015 / Published: 22 October 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4687 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In spite of a growing interest in organic agriculture; there has been relatively little research on why farmers might choose to adopt organic methods, particularly in the developing world. To address this shortcoming, we developed an exploratory agent-based model depicting Philippine smallholder farmer
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In spite of a growing interest in organic agriculture; there has been relatively little research on why farmers might choose to adopt organic methods, particularly in the developing world. To address this shortcoming, we developed an exploratory agent-based model depicting Philippine smallholder farmer decisions to implement organic techniques in rice paddy systems. Our modeling exercise was novel in its combination of three characteristics: first, agent rules were based on focus group data collected in the system of study. Second, a social network structure was built into the model. Third, we utilized variance-based sensitivity analysis to quantify model outcome variability, identify influential drivers, and suggest ways in which further modeling efforts could be focused and simplified. The model results indicated an upper limit on the number of farmers adopting organic methods. The speed of information spread through the social network; crop yields; and the size of a farmer’s plot were highly influential in determining agents’ adoption rates. The results of this stylized model indicate that rates of organic farming adoption are highly sensitive to the yield drop after switchover to organic techniques, and to the speed of information spread through existing social networks. Further research and model development should focus on these system characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Entity-Based Landscape Modelling to Assess the Impacts of Different Incentives Mechanisms on Argan Forest Dynamics
Land 2015, 4(4), 1003-1029; doi:10.3390/land4041003
Received: 2 July 2015 / Accepted: 29 October 2015 / Published: 11 November 2015
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Abstract
Illegal occupation of argan forest parcels by local households is a new phenomenon in South West Morocco. This is primarily due to the weakening of traditional common control systems and to the boom of the argan oil price. The scope of this work
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Illegal occupation of argan forest parcels by local households is a new phenomenon in South West Morocco. This is primarily due to the weakening of traditional common control systems and to the boom of the argan oil price. The scope of this work is to develop a decision support system based on dynamic spatial modelling, allowing to anticipate the land tenure dynamics and their impact on forest stand degradation under different policy scenarios. The model simulates the change of land possession by locals and the forest stand degradation levels. The methodological approach combines a Markov chain analysis (MCA) with stakeholders’ preferences for land tenure. First, parcels’ transition probabilities are computed using the MCA. Second, the acquiring suitability map is derived from multi-criteria evaluation procedure (AHP) using biophysical and socio-economic data. Finally, uncertainty is introduced in the simulation based on probabilistic analysis for supporting socio-economic diversity and non-mechanistic human behavior. The modelling approach was successfully used to compare three scenarios: business as usual (continuation of illegal acquiring), total disengagement of the population and private/public partnership with incentives for restoring argan parcel. The model yields geographic information about (i) the magnitude of the on-going process; (ii) the potential occurrence of land use conflicts induced by new policies; and (iii) the location of land conservation or degradation hot-spots. The outcomes of the “business as usual” and of the “total disengagement” models were similar over a 30-year simulation period: in both cases, the proportion of “highly degraded” parcels was doubled and the number of “quite degraded” parcels was increased by 50%. On the other hand, should the private/public partnership effectively work, about 40% of the parcels could be restored to a sustainable level. Full article
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Open AccessArticle “Nothing Is Like It Was Before”: The Dynamics between Land-Use and Land-Cover, and Livelihood Strategies in the Northern Vietnam Borderlands
Land 2015, 4(4), 1030-1059; doi:10.3390/land4041030
Received: 28 July 2015 / Revised: 6 November 2015 / Accepted: 9 November 2015 / Published: 18 November 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (17772 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Land uses are changing rapidly in Vietnam’s upland northern borderlands. Regional development platforms such as the Greater Mekong Subregion, state-propelled market integration and reforestation programs, and lowland entrepreneurs and migrants are all impacting this frontier landscape. Drawing on a mixed methods approach using
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Land uses are changing rapidly in Vietnam’s upland northern borderlands. Regional development platforms such as the Greater Mekong Subregion, state-propelled market integration and reforestation programs, and lowland entrepreneurs and migrants are all impacting this frontier landscape. Drawing on a mixed methods approach using remote sensing data from 2000 to 2009 and ethnographic fieldwork, we examine how land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) has occurred across three borderland provinces—Lai Châu, Lào Cai and Hà Giang—with high proportions of ethnic minority semi-subsistence farmers. After a broad examination of regional land-use changes, we select three case studies to further analyze the underlying relationships between specific LULCC and local livelihood diversification strategies. These include specific patterns of urban growth due to a range of political decisions in Lai Châu and Lào Cai Provinces; reforestation due to non-timber forest (NTFP) product cultivation in the west of Lào Cai Province; and a stable landscape that restricts government attempts at refashioning upland livelihoods in the east of Hà Giang. Our findings point to the difficulties of completing LULCC maps for this highly heterogeneous region and the complexity of LULCC and livelihood interactions and relationships examined on the ground. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Changing Livelihoods and Landscapes in the Rural Eastern Cape, South Africa: Past Influences and Future Trajectories
Land 2015, 4(4), 1060-1089; doi:10.3390/land4041060
Received: 30 June 2015 / Revised: 20 October 2015 / Accepted: 5 November 2015 / Published: 19 November 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (6286 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper seeks to understand the drivers and pathways of local livelihood change and the prospects for transformation towards a more sustainable future. Data are used from several studies, and a participatory social learning process, which formed part of a larger project in
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This paper seeks to understand the drivers and pathways of local livelihood change and the prospects for transformation towards a more sustainable future. Data are used from several studies, and a participatory social learning process, which formed part of a larger project in two sites in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Secondary information from a wealth of related work is used to place our results within the historic context and more general trends in the country. Findings indicate that livelihoods in the rural Eastern Cape are on new trajectories. Agricultural production has declined markedly, at a time when the need for diversification of livelihoods and food security seems to be at a premium. This decline is driven by a suite of drivers that interact with, and are influenced by, other changes and stresses affecting local livelihoods. We distil out the factors, ranging from historical processes to national policies and local dynamics, that hamper peoples’ motivation and ability to respond to locally identified vulnerabilities and, which, when taken together, could drive households into a trap. We end by considering the transformations required to help local people evade traps and progress towards a more promising future in a context of increasing uncertainty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Patterns of Wastewater Infrastructure along a Gradient of Coastal Urbanization: A Study of the Puget Sound Region
Land 2015, 4(4), 1090-1109; doi:10.3390/land4041090
Received: 6 September 2015 / Revised: 10 November 2015 / Accepted: 11 November 2015 / Published: 23 November 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (13686 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to explore patterns of wastewater infrastructures (sewers vs. septic tanks) in urbanizing watersheds across a coastal metropolitan region. This research combines an urban-rural gradient with spatial metrics at the patch and watershed scale (proportion of parcels on
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The aim of this paper is to explore patterns of wastewater infrastructures (sewers vs. septic tanks) in urbanizing watersheds across a coastal metropolitan region. This research combines an urban-rural gradient with spatial metrics at the patch and watershed scale (proportion of parcels on a treatment system, septic density, lot size and percent imperviousness) to analyze wastewater patterns in the Puget Sound, WA, USA. Results show that most urban residential parcels are hooked up to a sewer, although there remain urban residences on a septic tank with small lots. I find a complex arrangement of wastewater treatment in suburban watersheds representing a patchwork of parcels on sewers and septic tanks. Sewers dominate in total numbers, while the density of septic tanks is highest in this portion of the urban gradient. Lot size decreases from rural to urban; however, it varies depending on the type of wastewater treatment system. In urban watersheds, lots on septic tanks are significantly smaller than lots in suburban and rural watersheds and of a similar size compared to lots on sewers. I also find a significant difference in the amount of impervious surfaces in watersheds dominated by sewers vs. septic tanks. In the urban portion of the gradient, the amount of paved surfaces in parcels with septic tanks is also similar in level as parcels with sewers. I discuss how these patterns emerge from the interplay of biophysical, socio-economic and technological factors and how different regulatory regimes for septic tanks and sewers may further induce these patterns. Full article
Open AccessArticle Investigating Impacts of Alternative Crop Market Scenarios on Land Use Change with an Agent-Based Model
Land 2015, 4(4), 1110-1137; doi:10.3390/land4041110
Received: 1 January 2015 / Revised: 9 November 2015 / Accepted: 16 November 2015 / Published: 24 November 2015
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Abstract
We developed an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate farmers’ decisions on crop type and fertilizer application in response to commodity and biofuel crop prices. Farm profit maximization constrained by farmers’ profit expectations for land committed to biofuel crop production was used as the
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We developed an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate farmers’ decisions on crop type and fertilizer application in response to commodity and biofuel crop prices. Farm profit maximization constrained by farmers’ profit expectations for land committed to biofuel crop production was used as the decision rule. Empirical parameters characterizing farmers’ profit expectations were derived from an agricultural landowners and operators survey and integrated in the ABM. The integration of crop production cost models and the survey information in the ABM is critical to producing simulations that can provide realistic insights into agricultural land use planning and policy making. Model simulations were run with historical market prices and alternative market scenarios for corn price, soybean to corn price ratio, switchgrass price, and switchgrass to corn stover ratio. The results of the comparison between simulated cropland percentage and crop rotations with satellite-based land cover data suggest that farmers may be underestimating the effects that continuous corn production has on yields. The simulation results for alternative market scenarios based on a survey of agricultural land owners and operators in the Clear Creek Watershed in eastern Iowa show that farmers see cellulosic biofuel feedstock production in the form of perennial grasses or corn stover as a more risky enterprise than their current crop production systems, likely because of market and production risks and lock in effects. As a result farmers do not follow a simple farm-profit maximization rule. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agent-Based Modelling and Landscape Change) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle One Shared Region and Two Different Change Patterns: Land Use Change in the Binational Californian Mediterranean Region
Land 2015, 4(4), 1138-1154; doi:10.3390/land4041138
Received: 28 August 2015 / Revised: 10 November 2015 / Accepted: 17 November 2015 / Published: 25 November 2015
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Abstract
The Californian Floristic Province, ranging from Northern California, USA, to the northwestern portion of the state of Baja California, Mexico, is a region of great biological richness that has a high risk of loss of species due to the effect of human activities.
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The Californian Floristic Province, ranging from Northern California, USA, to the northwestern portion of the state of Baja California, Mexico, is a region of great biological richness that has a high risk of loss of species due to the effect of human activities. The main stressor that threatens its biodiversity is the change in land use and vegetation cover, which severely impacts the environmental and socio-economic systems’ functioning, affecting the provision of environmental services including the maintenance of biodiversity. The Tijuana River Watershed (TRW) is located within this floristic province. It has experienced rapid population growth during the last 50 years, demanding development of infrastructure in areas where native vegetation existed. As a binational watershed, it is an ideal area to study the processes involved in fragmentation and connectivity of natural environments, since both countries, while sharing the same environment, contrast greatly in their economic and social systems, which impose different pressures to these shared natural resources. Our research addresses change in vegetation cover and land use in the TRW, analyzing the changes and differences between Mexico and the United States. This analysis will be a basis to propose future management strategies for the conservation of ecological processes and biodiversity, according to the policies and actions for land management and conservation in both countries. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Forest Transition in Madagascar’s Highlands: Initial Evidence and Implications
Land 2015, 4(4), 1155-1181; doi:10.3390/land4041155
Received: 2 August 2015 / Revised: 26 October 2015 / Accepted: 9 November 2015 / Published: 25 November 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (9976 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Madagascar is renowned for the loss of the forested habitat of lemurs and other species endemic to the island. Less well known is that in the highlands, a region often described as an environmental “basket-case” of fire-degraded, eroded grasslands, woody cover has been
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Madagascar is renowned for the loss of the forested habitat of lemurs and other species endemic to the island. Less well known is that in the highlands, a region often described as an environmental “basket-case” of fire-degraded, eroded grasslands, woody cover has been increasing for decades. Using information derived from publically available high- and medium-resolution satellites, this study characterizes tree cover dynamics in the highlands of Madagascar over the past two decades. Our results reveal heterogeneous patterns of increased tree cover on smallholder farms and village lands, spurred by a mix of endogenous and exogenous forces. The new trees play important roles in rural livelihoods, providing renewable supplies of firewood, charcoal, timber and other products and services, as well as defensible claims to land tenure in the context of a decline in the use of hillside commons for grazing. This study documents this nascent forest transition through Land Change Science techniques, and provides a prologue to political ecological analysis by setting these changes in their social and environmental context and interrogating the costs and benefits of the shift in rural livelihood strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Spatial Distribution of Estimated Wind-Power Royalties in West Texas
Land 2015, 4(4), 1182-1199; doi:10.3390/land4041182
Received: 15 July 2015 / Revised: 10 November 2015 / Accepted: 12 November 2015 / Published: 2 December 2015
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Abstract
Wind-power development in the U.S. occurs primarily on private land, producing royalties for landowners through private contracts with wind-farm operators. Texas, the U.S. leader in wind-power production with well-documented support for wind power, has virtually all of its ~12 GW of wind capacity
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Wind-power development in the U.S. occurs primarily on private land, producing royalties for landowners through private contracts with wind-farm operators. Texas, the U.S. leader in wind-power production with well-documented support for wind power, has virtually all of its ~12 GW of wind capacity sited on private lands. Determining the spatial distribution of royalty payments from wind energy is a crucial first step to understanding how renewable power may alter land-based livelihoods of some landowners, and, as a result, possibly encourage land-use changes. We located ~1700 wind turbines (~2.7 GW) on 241 landholdings in Nolan and Taylor counties, Texas, a major wind-development region. We estimated total royalties to be ~$11.5 million per year, with mean annual royalty received per landowner per year of $47,879 but with significant differences among quintiles and between two sub-regions. Unequal distribution of royalties results from land-tenure patterns established before wind-power development because of a “property advantage,” defined as the pre-existing land-tenure patterns that benefit the fraction of rural landowners who receive wind turbines. A “royalty paradox” describes the observation that royalties flow to a small fraction of landowners even though support for wind power exceeds 70 percent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle The Role of Citizen Science in Landscape and Seascape Approaches to Integrating Conservation and Development
Land 2015, 4(4), 1200-1212; doi:10.3390/land4041200
Received: 7 October 2015 / Revised: 22 November 2015 / Accepted: 3 December 2015 / Published: 9 December 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (727 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Initiatives to manage landscapes for both biodiversity protection and sustainable development commonly employ participatory methods to exploit the knowledge of citizens. We review five examples of citizen groups engaging with landscape scale conservation initiatives to contribute their knowledge, collect data for monitoring programs,
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Initiatives to manage landscapes for both biodiversity protection and sustainable development commonly employ participatory methods to exploit the knowledge of citizens. We review five examples of citizen groups engaging with landscape scale conservation initiatives to contribute their knowledge, collect data for monitoring programs, study systems to detect patterns, and test hypotheses on aspects of landscape dynamics. Three are from landscape interventions that deliberately target biodiversity conservation and aim to have sustainable development as a collateral outcome. The other two are driven primarily by concerns for agricultural sustainability with biodiversity conservation as a collateral outcome. All five include programs in which, management agencies support data collection by citizen groups to monitor landscape changes. Situations where citizen groups self-organise to collect data and interpret data to aid in landscape scale decision making are less common and are restricted to landscapes where the inhabitants have a high level of scientific literacy. Given the complexity of landscape processes and the multiple decision makers who influence landscape outcomes we argue that citizen science broadly defined should be an essential element of landscape scale initiatives. Conservation managers should create space for citizen engagement in science and should empower citizen groups to experiment, learn, and adapt their decision-making to improve landscape scale outcomes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Built-up Area Change Analysis in Hanoi Using Support Vector Machine Classification of Landsat Multi-Temporal Image Stacks and Population Data
Land 2015, 4(4), 1213-1231; doi:10.3390/land4041213
Received: 28 July 2015 / Revised: 6 December 2015 / Accepted: 10 December 2015 / Published: 17 December 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (11870 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 1986, the Government of Vietnam implemented free market reforms known as Doi Moi (renovation) that provided private ownership of farms and companies, and encouraged deregulation and foreign investment. Since then, the economy of Vietnam has achieved rapid growth in agricultural and industrial
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In 1986, the Government of Vietnam implemented free market reforms known as Doi Moi (renovation) that provided private ownership of farms and companies, and encouraged deregulation and foreign investment. Since then, the economy of Vietnam has achieved rapid growth in agricultural and industrial production, construction and housing, and exports and foreign investments, each of which have resulted in momentous landscape transformations. One of the most evident changes is urbanization and an accompanying loss of agricultural lands and open spaces. These rapid changes pose enormous challenges for local populations as well as planning authorities. Accurate and timely data on changes in built-up urban environments are essential for supporting sound urban development. In this study, we applied the Support Vector Machine classification (SVM) to multi-temporal stacks of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) images from 1993 to 2010 to quantify changes in built-up areas. The SVM classification algorithm produced a highly accurate map of land cover change with an overall accuracy of 95%. The study showed that most urban expansion occurred in the periods 2001–2006 and 2006–2010. The analysis was strengthened by the incorporation of population and other socio-economic data. This study provides state authorities a means to examine correlations between urban growth, spatial expansion, and other socio-economic factors in order to not only assess patterns of urban growth but also become aware of potential environmental, social, and economic problems. Full article
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