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Land, Volume 5, Issue 3 (September 2016) – 12 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) This research examines the impact of forest management regimes on forest conservation in Central [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Patterns and Predictors of Recent Forest Conversion in New England
Land 2016, 5(3), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030030 - 19 Sep 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2840
Abstract
New England forests provide numerous benefits to the region’s residents, but are undergoing rapid development. We used boosted regression tree analysis (BRT) to assess geographic predictors of forest loss to development between 2001 and 2011. BRT combines classification and regression trees with machine [...] Read more.
New England forests provide numerous benefits to the region’s residents, but are undergoing rapid development. We used boosted regression tree analysis (BRT) to assess geographic predictors of forest loss to development between 2001 and 2011. BRT combines classification and regression trees with machine learning to generate non-parametric statistical models that can capture non-linear relationships. Based on National Land Cover Database (NLCD) maps of land cover change, we assessed the importance of the biophysical and social variables selected for full region coverage and minimal collinearity in predicting forest loss to development, specifically: elevation, slope, distance to roads, density of highways, distance to built land, distance to cities, population density, change in population density, relative change in population density, population per housing unit, median income, state, land ownership categories and county classification as recreation or retirement counties. The resulting models explained 6.9% of the variation for 2001–2011, 4.5% for 2001–2006 and 1.8% for 2006–2011, fairly high values given the complexity of factors predicting land development and the high resolution of the spatial datasets (30-m pixels). The two most important variables in the BRT were “population density” and “distance to road”, which together made up 55.5% of the variation for 2001–2011, 49.4% for 2001–2006 and 42.9% for 2006–2011. The lower predictive power for 2006–2011 may reflect reduced development due to the “Great Recession”. From our models, we generated high-resolution probability surfaces, which can provide a key input for simulation models of forest and land cover change. Full article
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Open AccessReview
How Are Feedbacks Represented in Land Models?
Land 2016, 5(3), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030029 - 11 Sep 2016
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3061
Abstract
Land systems are characterised by many feedbacks that can result in complex system behaviour. We defined feedbacks as the two-way influences between the land use system and a related system (e.g., climate, soils and markets), both of which are encompassed by the land [...] Read more.
Land systems are characterised by many feedbacks that can result in complex system behaviour. We defined feedbacks as the two-way influences between the land use system and a related system (e.g., climate, soils and markets), both of which are encompassed by the land system. Land models that include feedbacks thus probably more accurately mimic how land systems respond to, e.g., policy or climate change. However, representing feedbacks in land models is a challenge. We reviewed articles incorporating feedbacks into land models and analysed each with predefined indicators. We found that (1) most modelled feedbacks couple land use systems with transport, soil and market systems, while only a few include feedbacks between land use and social systems or climate systems; (2) equation-based land use models that follow a top-down approach prevail; and (3) feedbacks’ effects on system behaviour remain relatively unexplored. We recommend that land system modellers (1) consider feedbacks between land use systems and social systems; (2) adopt (bottom-up) approaches suited to incorporating spatial heterogeneity and better representing land use decision-making; and (3) pay more attention to nonlinear system behaviour and its implications for land system management and policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land System Science)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Agriculture Oriented towards Self-Supply, Social and Commercial Purpose: A Typology
Land 2016, 5(3), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030028 - 17 Aug 2016
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3047
Abstract
Urban agriculture, a dynamic multifunctional phenomenon, affects the spatial diversification of urban land use, its valorization and its governance. Literature acknowledges its contribution to the development of sustainable cities. The dimension and extent of this contribution depends significantly on the particular form and [...] Read more.
Urban agriculture, a dynamic multifunctional phenomenon, affects the spatial diversification of urban land use, its valorization and its governance. Literature acknowledges its contribution to the development of sustainable cities. The dimension and extent of this contribution depends significantly on the particular form and function of urban agriculture. However, the complexity of interests and dimensions is insufficiently covered by theory. This paper proposes a typology for urban agriculture, supporting both theory building and practical decision processes. We reviewed and mapped the diversity of the types of agriculture found along three beneficial dimensions (self-supply, socio-cultural, commercial) for product distribution scale and actors. We distinguish between ideal types, subtypes and mixed types. Our intention is to include a dynamic perspective in the typology of urban agricultural land use because transition processes between types are observable due to the existence of complex motivations and influences. In a pilot study of 52 urban agriculture initiatives in Germany, we tested the validity of the typology and discussed it with stakeholders, proving novelty and relevance for profiling discussions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Forest Management Regimes on Deforestation in a Central Indian Dry Deciduous Forest Landscape
Land 2016, 5(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030027 - 12 Aug 2016
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4104
Abstract
This research examines the impact of forest management regimes, with various degrees of restriction, on forest conservation in a dry deciduous Indian forest landscape. Forest change is mapped using Landsat satellite images from 1977, 1990, 1999, and 2011. The landscape studied has lost [...] Read more.
This research examines the impact of forest management regimes, with various degrees of restriction, on forest conservation in a dry deciduous Indian forest landscape. Forest change is mapped using Landsat satellite images from 1977, 1990, 1999, and 2011. The landscape studied has lost 1478 km2 of dense forest cover between 1977 and 2011, with a maximum loss of 1002 km2 of dense forest between 1977 and 1990. The number of protected forest areas has increased, concomitant with an increase in restrictions on forest access and use outside protected areas. Interviews with residents of 20 randomly selected villages indicate that in the absence of alternatives, rather than reducing their dependence on forests, communities appear to shift their use to other, less protected patches of forest. Pressure shifts seem to be taking place as a consequence of increasing protection, from within protected areas to forests outside, leading to the creation of protected but isolated forest islands within a matrix of overall deforestation, and increased conflict between local residents and forest managers. A broader landscape vision for forest management needs to be developed, that involves local communities with forest protection and enables their decision-making on forest management outside strict protected areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Enhancement of Linear Agricultural Areas to Provide Invertebrates as Potential Food for Breeding Birds
Land 2016, 5(3), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030026 - 28 Jul 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1716
Abstract
Birds are an important part of the agricultural landscape, as having nature value, but also as pest control agents and bio-indicators for the health of the environment. Here we look at linear non-crop elements in agricultural areas as a potential source of food [...] Read more.
Birds are an important part of the agricultural landscape, as having nature value, but also as pest control agents and bio-indicators for the health of the environment. Here we look at linear non-crop elements in agricultural areas as a potential source of food for nestlings of avian species. We measured invertebrate availability as it relates to structural complexity at the local and landscape levels in three counties in central Illinois. Invertebrates were measured with taxonomic diversity, abundance, and estimated biomass during spring of 2012 and 2013. Our study shows that easily modifiable field edge characteristics have the greatest impact on invertebrate diversity and abundance, as compared to field and landscape features. This finding shows that a potential invertebrate food source as measured by both diversity and biomass, may be easily enhanced without changes to agricultural practices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis and Prediction of Land Use Changes Related to Invasive Species and Major Driving Forces in the State of Connecticut
Land 2016, 5(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030025 - 28 Jul 2016
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3734
Abstract
Land use and land cover (LULC) patterns play an important role in the establishment and spread of invasive plants. Understanding LULC changes is useful for early detection and management of land-use change to reduce the spread of invasive species. The primary objective of [...] Read more.
Land use and land cover (LULC) patterns play an important role in the establishment and spread of invasive plants. Understanding LULC changes is useful for early detection and management of land-use change to reduce the spread of invasive species. The primary objective of this study is to analyze and predict LULC changes in Connecticut. LULC maps for 1996, 2001 and 2006 were selected to analyze past land cover changes, and then potential LULC distribution in 2018 was predicted using the Multi-Layer Perceptron Markov Chain (MLP_MC) model. This study shows that the total area of forest has been decreasing, mainly caused by urban development and other human activity in Connecticut. The model predicts that the study area will lose 5535 ha of deciduous forest and gain 3502 ha of built-up area from 2006 to 2018. Moreover, forests near built-up areas and agriculture lands appear to be more vulnerable to conversion. Changes in LULC may result in subtle spatial shifts in invasion risk by an abundant invasive shrub, Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii). The gain of developed areas at the landscape scale was most closely linked to increased future invasion risk. Our findings suggest that the forest conversion needs to be controlled and well managed to help mitigate future invasion risk. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Smallholders, Agrarian Reform, and Globalization in the Brazilian Amazon: Cattle versus the Environment
Land 2016, 5(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030024 - 07 Jul 2016
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3612
Abstract
Smallholder farming in the Brazilian Amazon has changed markedly over the last few decades, following a pervasive swing to cattle production observed across the basin. These changes have brought opportunities for accumulating a modicum of wealth that were not available in the early [...] Read more.
Smallholder farming in the Brazilian Amazon has changed markedly over the last few decades, following a pervasive swing to cattle production observed across the basin. These changes have brought opportunities for accumulating a modicum of wealth that were not available in the early stages of colonization. At the same time, they have reconfigured livelihood systems away from diversified agriculture to a strong engagement with the cattle economy. They are also exposing smallholders to new forms of exploitation by transnational corporations, seeking to pass risk upstream to less powerful economic agents who provide inputs to production, such as calves. The case of Southeastern Pará provides a natural laboratory for investigating such phenomena, which the article considers through the presentation of data from field research conducted in the region over the past decade. Here, agrarian reform efforts have been particularly intense, and social movements have often espoused a green rhetoric in favor of diversified agriculture, even though smallholders show little interest in anything but cattle. Household level incentives promote Amazonia’s emergent cattle economy, demonstrating how global production networks have reached into the basin, where production relations between smallholders provisioning calves to large ranching operations often resemble what has been referred to in the literature as “contract farmingland grabs, given the exploitive terms of trade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessHypothesis
Nitrogen Pollution and the Meltdown of Urban Ecosystems
Land 2016, 5(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030023 - 05 Jul 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1796
Abstract
Urban ecosystems are carrying an extinction debt. Mitigating this debt will require the development of a predictive framework that improves our understanding of the factors causing decline of native biodiversity in urban areas. I argue that nitrogen is a common currency around which [...] Read more.
Urban ecosystems are carrying an extinction debt. Mitigating this debt will require the development of a predictive framework that improves our understanding of the factors causing decline of native biodiversity in urban areas. I argue that nitrogen is a common currency around which such a predictive framework could be built. I first summarise the evidence that shows the probable extent of nitrogen enrichment in urban ecosystems. I then review the body of empirical evidence that describes how nitrogen enrichment affects ecosystem process and function. By unifying these two bodies of empirical evidence, I generate a series of testable hypotheses that may allow for a better understanding of native biodiversity loss in urban areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Landscape-Scale Disturbance: Insights into the Complexity of Catchment Hydrology in the Mountaintop Removal Mining Region of the Eastern United States
Land 2016, 5(3), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030022 - 05 Jul 2016
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2996
Abstract
Few land disturbances impact watersheds at the scale and extent of mountaintop removal mining (MTM). This practice removes forests, soils and bedrock to gain access to underground coal that results in likely permanent and wholesale changes that impact catchment hydrology, geochemistry and ecosystem [...] Read more.
Few land disturbances impact watersheds at the scale and extent of mountaintop removal mining (MTM). This practice removes forests, soils and bedrock to gain access to underground coal that results in likely permanent and wholesale changes that impact catchment hydrology, geochemistry and ecosystem health. MTM is the dominant driver of land cover changes in the central Appalachian Mountains region of the United States, converting forests to mine lands and burying headwater streams. Despite its dominance on the landscape, determining the hydrological impacts of MTM is complicated by underground coal mines that significantly alter groundwater hydrology. To provide insight into how coal mining impacts headwater catchments, we compared the hydrologic responses of an MTM and forested catchment using event rainfall-runoff analysis, modeling and isotopic approaches. Despite similar rainfall characteristics, hydrology in the two catchments differed in significant ways, but both catchments demonstrated threshold-mediated hydrologic behavior that was attributed to transient storage and the release of runoff from underground mines. Results suggest that underground mines are important controls for runoff generation in both obviously disturbed and seemingly undisturbed catchments and interact in uncertain ways with disturbance from MTM. This paper summarizes our results and demonstrates the complexity of catchment hydrology in the MTM region. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Agriculture on the Brink: Climate Change, Labor and Smallholder Farming in Botswana
Land 2016, 5(3), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030021 - 27 Jun 2016
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3544
Abstract
Botswana is a semi-arid, middle-income African country that imports 90 percent of its food. Despite its relative prosperity, Botswana also suffers from one of the highest measures of income inequality in the world, persistent poverty, and relatively high levels of food insecurity. The [...] Read more.
Botswana is a semi-arid, middle-income African country that imports 90 percent of its food. Despite its relative prosperity, Botswana also suffers from one of the highest measures of income inequality in the world, persistent poverty, and relatively high levels of food insecurity. The objective of this paper is to explore how political economy, climate change and livelihood dynamics are synergistically impacting household food security. The major finding is that the marginalization of smallholder farming in Botswana has as much or more to do with domestic, regional and international political economy as it does with climate change. As such, international efforts to support climate change adaptation in Botswana will have a limited effect on smallholder farming livelihoods and rural food security unless such efforts take account of political economic constraints. Effective support must be based on a grounded understanding of the real drivers of marginalization and food insecurity. One initiative that merits further exploration is the government’s backyard gardening initiative, which could be viewed as a pro-poor climate adaptation strategy. The findings of this paper are based on semi-structured interviews with policymakers and surveys with urban, peri-urban and rural households undertaken in 2012 and 2015. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Poverty and Environmental Degradation in Southern Burkina Faso: An Assessment Based on Participatory Methods
Land 2016, 5(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030020 - 24 Jun 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3151
Abstract
The poverty and environmental degradation vicious circle hypothesis considers the poor as agents and victims of environmentally degrading activities. Despite some studies, however, there still has not been a sufficient empirical examination of the poverty-environment nexus. Based on participatory poverty assessment (PPA) methods [...] Read more.
The poverty and environmental degradation vicious circle hypothesis considers the poor as agents and victims of environmentally degrading activities. Despite some studies, however, there still has not been a sufficient empirical examination of the poverty-environment nexus. Based on participatory poverty assessment (PPA) methods with two hundred farm households categorized by wealth status in southern Burkina Faso, six indicators of environmental degradation and a set of land management practices were examined to answer the following questions: (i) Which households (non-poor, fairly-poor, or poorest) are responsible for environmental degradation? (ii) Does poverty constrain adoption of land management practices considered to improve the land? Results indicate deforestation is highest for non-poor farmers, and non-poor and fairly-poor farmers have higher rates of overgrazing. In addition, the entire non-poor group, mainly recent migrants to the area, occupy borrowed lands with tenure perceived as insecure, considered by farmers to be a disincentive for assisted natural regeneration of vegetation. Thus, non-poor and fairly-poor farmers participate most in activities locally identified as environmentally degrading, and the former contribute more than the latter. On the other hand, adoption of land management practices considered to improve the land is relatively low amongst the poorest farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
The Quiet Rise of Medium-Scale Farms in Malawi
Land 2016, 5(3), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/land5030019 - 24 Jun 2016
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3345
Abstract
Medium-scale farms have become a major force in Malawi’s agricultural sector. Malawi’s most recent official agricultural survey indicates that these account for over a quarter of all land under cultivation in Malawi. This study explores the causes and multifaceted consequences of the rising [...] Read more.
Medium-scale farms have become a major force in Malawi’s agricultural sector. Malawi’s most recent official agricultural survey indicates that these account for over a quarter of all land under cultivation in Malawi. This study explores the causes and multifaceted consequences of the rising importance of medium-scale farms in Malawi. We identify the characteristics and pathways of entry into farming based on surveys of 300 medium-scale farmers undertaken in 2014 in the districts of Mchinji, Kasungu and Lilongwe. The area of land acquired by medium-scale farmers in these three districts is found to have almost doubled between 2000 and 2015. Just over half of the medium-scale farmers represent cases of successful expansion out of small-scale farming status; the other significant proportion of medium-scale farmers are found to be urban-based professionals, entrepreneurs and/or civil servants who acquired land, some very recently, and started farming in mid-life. We also find that a significant portion of the land acquired by medium-scale farmers was utilized by others prior to acquisition, that most of the acquired land was under customary tenure, and that the current owners were often successful in transferring the ownership structure of the acquired land to a long-term leaseholding with a title deed. The study finds that, instead of just strong endogenous growth of small-scale famers as a route for the emergence of medium-scale farms, significant farm consolidation is occurring through land acquisitions, often by urban-based people. The effects of farmland acquisitions by domestic investors on the country’s primary development goals, such as food security, poverty reduction and employment, are not yet clear, though some trends appear to be emerging. We consider future research questions that may more fully shed light on the implications of policies that would continue to promote land acquisitions by medium-scale farms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Land Use, Changing Livelihoods) Printed Edition available
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