Special Issue "Understanding the Patterns, Drivers and Consequences of Agricultural Land Use Change and Land-Use Intensity"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Fabian Löw

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, MapTailor Geospatial Consulting GbR, Nassestrasse 13, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Agricultural monitoring; Crop mapping; Crop yield; Central Asia; Copernicus; EO for agriculture; Image classification; Land abandonment; Machine learning; Natural hazards; Time series analysis; Uncertainty
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Alexander Prishchepov

Associate Professor University of Copenhagen, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (IGN), Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 København K, Denmark
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +45 35 33 13 86
Interests: remote sensing of land-use land-cover change (LULCC), understanding the drivers of LULCC, sustainable land use
Guest Editor
Dr. Florian Schierhorn

Structural Development of Farms and Rural Areas (Structural Change), Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Theodor-Lieser-Str. 2, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +49 345 2928-335
Fax: +49 345 2928-399
Interests: land change science; crop growth modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agricultural land is a widespread land-cover type globally, however agricultural land-use pressure on pristine areas will most likely increase in future due to growing food demands. Land remaining idle and suitable for cultivation is becoming a rare commodity. At the same time, agricultural land abandonment is also a widespread land-use change phenomenon.
Often underlying and proximate drivers of agricultural land expansion/abandonment are not clear, particularly due to the interplay of a mixed set of proximate and underlying local and distal drivers, for instance via teleconnections. There is a strong need to advance research to better understand such complex combinations of drivers.

It is also not clear what the impact of agricultural land expansion/abandonment and change in land-use intensity (i.e., multiple annual cropping, intercropping, application of fertilizers, crop rotation techniques, and irrigation) has on ecosystem services and human well-being. There is a further need for interdisciplinary studies within the socio-ecological framework: trade-offs, better understanding land sharing and land sparing options. Last, but not least, there is also a pressing need in advancing theoretical background knowledge of land system science to better understand non-linear, complex causal human–land cover linkages.
This Special Issue on "Understanding the Patterns, Drivers and Consequences of Agricultural Land Use Change and Land-Use Intensity" is dedicated to bring advances in Land System Science on better understanding the proximate and underlying drivers of land-cover change with regard to agricultural land expansion/abandonment and change of land-use intensity. We highly encourage interdisciplinary studies on agricultural land change which involve different techniques, such as remotely-sensed observations, land-use modeling, sociological and economic studies, as well as linkages with ecology. Works on advancing the theoretical background of Land System Science with the focus on agricultural change are also welcome.

With these issues in mind, we invite you to submit manuscripts about your recent research, as well as review papers, in line with, but not restricted to, the following topics (not limited):
o    Drivers, constraints and trade-offs associated with increase/decrease in land-use intensity, agricultural land abandonment and recultivation
o    Drivers, constraints and trade-offs associated with changes of land-use intensity in grassland ecosystems
o    Understanding the role of distal and proximate drivers and the role of teleconnections with regard to agricultural land change
o    Linkage of agricultural land-use change impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services.
o    Theoretical advancement of Land System Science with the focus on better understanding the drivers of agricultural production and trade-offs.

Dr. Fabian Löw
Prof. Dr. Alexander Prishchepov
Dr. Florian Schierhorn
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Simulating Stakeholder-Based Land-Use Change Scenarios and Their Implication on Above-Ground Carbon and Environmental Management in Northern Thailand
Land 2017, 6(4), 85; doi:10.3390/land6040085
Received: 2 October 2017 / Revised: 26 November 2017 / Accepted: 27 November 2017 / Published: 3 December 2017
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Abstract
The objective of this study was to examine whether the coupling of a land-use change (LUC) model with a carbon-stock accounting approach and participatory procedures can be beneficial in a data-limited environment to derive implications for environmental management. Stakeholder-based LUC scenarios referring to
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The objective of this study was to examine whether the coupling of a land-use change (LUC) model with a carbon-stock accounting approach and participatory procedures can be beneficial in a data-limited environment to derive implications for environmental management. Stakeholder-based LUC scenarios referring to different storylines of agricultural intensification and reforestation were simulated to explore their impact on above-ground carbon (AGC) for a period of twenty years (2009–2029). The watershed of Mae Sa Mai, Northern Thailand was used as a case study for this purpose. Coupled model simulations revealed that AGC stocks could be increased by up to 1.7 Gg C through expansion of forests or orchard areas. A loss of up to 0.4 Gg C would occur if vegetable production continue to expand at the expense of orchard and fallow areas. The coupled model approach was useful due to its moderate data demands, enabling the comparison of land-use types differing in AGC build-up rates and rotation times. The scenario analysis depicted clear differences in the occurrence of LUC hotspots, highlighting the importance of assessing the impact of potential future LUC pathways at the landscape level. The use of LUC scenarios based on local stakeholder scenarios offer a higher credibility for climate mitigation strategies but also underline the need to co-design policy frameworks that acknowledge the heterogeneity of stakeholder needs and environmental management frameworks. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Agricultural Land Use Change after NAFTA in Central West Mexico
Land 2017, 6(4), 66; doi:10.3390/land6040066
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 30 September 2017 / Published: 5 October 2017
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Abstract
It has been suggested that agricultural land use change and modernization in agricultural production techniques are related to the loss of crop diversity. Two processes contribute to this loss; first is the replacement of landraces by modern varieties, and second is the abandonment
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It has been suggested that agricultural land use change and modernization in agricultural production techniques are related to the loss of crop diversity. Two processes contribute to this loss; first is the replacement of landraces by modern varieties, and second is the abandonment of traditional crops in favor of cash crops. We studied the expression of these processes in a region that is both an agro-biodiversity and cultural center and one of the most significant fruit exporters of Mexico. We analyzed agricultural change based on the transformation of cropping areas and the primary crops’ locations in Michoacán state. We examined the crop-harvested area statistics from 1950 to 2015, and identified 23 crops as the most important in terms of harvested area and monetary value. After NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), harvested area for nine crops changed significantly: seven crops increased, and two decreased. Positive trends were observed for commercial fruits oriented to export markets, and negative trends were observed for traditional crops. These crops, such as beans and maize, are important for food security. Additionally, we analyzed how these land-use and agricultural changes overlap in zones of maize planted-area change. Using a maize-race collection database, we identified three native maize races that could be at risk due to the abandonment of maize in favor of commercial crops. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle From Producers to Consumers: The Challenges and Opportunities of Agricultural Development in Iraqi Kurdistan
Land 2017, 6(2), 44; doi:10.3390/land6020044
Received: 28 April 2017 / Revised: 20 June 2017 / Accepted: 20 June 2017 / Published: 22 June 2017
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Abstract
Agriculture and rural life in the Middle East have gone through several changes in the past few decades. The region is characterized by high population growth, urbanization, and water scarcity, which poses a challenge to maintaining food security and production. This paper investigates
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Agriculture and rural life in the Middle East have gone through several changes in the past few decades. The region is characterized by high population growth, urbanization, and water scarcity, which poses a challenge to maintaining food security and production. This paper investigates agricultural and rural challenges in the Duhok governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan from biophysical, political, and socio-economic perspectives. Satellite data is used to study land use and productivity, while a review of government policies and interview data show the perspectives of the government and the local population. Our results reveal that these perspectives are not necessarily in line with each other, nor do they correspond well with the biophysical possibilities. While the government has been trying to increase agricultural productivity, satellite data show that yields have been declining since 2000. Furthermore, a lack of services in rural areas is driving people to cities to seek better opportunities, which means that the local population’s incentive to increase agricultural activity is low. Governmental plans suggest land extensification to increase production and self-sufficiency, but the land use classification shows little available land. Instead, we recommend supporting small-scale traditional agriculture development as a more sustainable and feasible alternative. Additionally, more resources need to be focused on improving rural infrastructure and services to increase access to education and health care as a means of gaining support from the local population. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Historical Land Use Dynamics in the Highly Degraded Landscape of the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory
Land 2017, 6(2), 32; doi:10.3390/land6020032
Received: 26 January 2017 / Revised: 18 April 2017 / Accepted: 27 April 2017 / Published: 2 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (7034 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Processes of land degradation and regeneration display fine scale heterogeneity often intimately linked with land use. Yet, examinations of the relationships between land use and land degradation often lack the resolution necessary to understand how local institutions differentially modulate feedback between individual farmers
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Processes of land degradation and regeneration display fine scale heterogeneity often intimately linked with land use. Yet, examinations of the relationships between land use and land degradation often lack the resolution necessary to understand how local institutions differentially modulate feedback between individual farmers and the spatially heterogeneous effects of land use on soils. In this paper, we examine an historical example of a transition from agriculture to forest dominated land use (c. 1933–1941) in a highly degraded landscape on the Piedmont of South Carolina. Our landscape-scale approach examines land use and tenure at the level that individuals enact management decisions. We used logistic regression techniques to examine associations between land use, land tenure, topography, and market cost-distance. Our findings suggest that farmer responses to changing market and policy conditions were influenced by topographic characteristics associated with productivity and long-term viability of agricultural land use. Further, although local environmental feedbacks help to explain spatial patterning of land use, property regime and land tenure arrangements also significantly constrained the ability of farmers to adapt to changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Drivers of Households’ Land-Use Decisions: A Critical Review of Micro-Level Studies in Tropical Regions
Land 2016, 5(4), 32; doi:10.3390/land5040032
Received: 16 June 2016 / Revised: 30 September 2016 / Accepted: 1 October 2016 / Published: 13 October 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (965 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper reviews 91 recent empirical and theoretical studies that analyzed land-use change at the farm-household level. The review builds on a conceptual framework of land-use change drivers and conducts a meta-analysis. Results show that the conversion of forests into cultivated land or
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This paper reviews 91 recent empirical and theoretical studies that analyzed land-use change at the farm-household level. The review builds on a conceptual framework of land-use change drivers and conducts a meta-analysis. Results show that the conversion of forests into cultivated land or grassland, mainly used for agriculture or ranching, are most frequently analyzed. Only a small number of studies consider the transition of wetlands for agriculture and few cases deal with the conversion from agriculture into protected zones. Moreover, interactions between drivers add to the complexity of land-use change processes. These interrelationships are conditioned by institutions and policies. In particular, the market-oriented reforms adopted by many developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s seem to have had an important role in altering land use, while impacts of more recent policies need to be better explored. Many studies rely on small samples and face problems of internal validity. Despite these weaknesses, the literature points at micro-level economic growth, for example in income and capital endowments, as a strong catalyst of human induced land-use change. However, the review suggests that—across the different studies and cases—there is considerable heterogeneity in the relationship between these factors and land-use change. Full article
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