Land use change (LUC) is a dynamic process that significantly affects the environment, and various approaches have been proposed to analyze and model LUC for sustainable land use management and decision making. Recurrent neural network (RNN) models are part of deep learning (DL) approaches, which have the capability to capture spatial and temporal features from time-series data and sequential data. The main objective of this study was to examine variants of the RNN models by applying and comparing them when forecasting LUC in short time periods. Historical land use data for the City of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada were used to implement the several variants of the RNN models. The land use (LU) data for years 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 were used to train the DL models to enable the short-term forecast for the year 2016. For the 2011 to 2016 period, only 4.5% of the land use in the study area had changed. The results indicate that an overall accuracy of 86.9% was achieved, while actual changes in each LU type were forecasted with a relatively lower accuracy. However, only 25% of changed raster cells correctly forecasted the land use change. This research study demonstrates that RNN models provide a suite of valuable tools for short-term LUC forecast that can inform and complement the traditional long-term planning process; however, further additional geospatial data layers and considerations of driving factors of LUC need to be incorporated for model improvements.
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