Understanding the processes of land use and land cover changes (LUCC) and the associated driving forces is important for achieving sustainable development. This paper presents the LUCC in Portugal at the regional level (NUTS II) from 1995 to 2010 and discusses the main driving forces and implications associated with these LUCC. The main objectives of this work are: (a) to quantify the land use and land cover (LUC) types (level I of LUC cartography) by NUT II in Portugal for the years 1995, 2007 and 2010; (b) to assess the spatio-temporal LUCC; and (c) to identify and discuss the main driving forces of LUCC and corresponding implications based on correlations and Principal Components Analysis. The results revealed large regional and temporal LUCC and further highlighted the different and sometimes opposite time trends between neighboring regions. By associating driving forces to LUCC, different influences at the regional level were observed, namely LUCC into agriculture land derived from the construction of dams (Alentejo region), or the conversion of coniferous forest into eucalypt forest (Centre region) associated with increased gross value added (GVA) and employment in industry and forestry. Temporal differentiation was also observed, particularly in the settlements that expanded between 1995 and 2007 due to the construction of large infrastructures (e.g., highways, industrial complexes, or buildings), which is reflected on employment in industry and construction and respective GVA. However, certain LUCC have implications, particularly in energy consumption, for which different behavior between regions can be highlighted in this analysis, but also on land-use sustainability.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited