Accurate estimations of the extent of agricultural land abandonment (ALA) are critical to the sustainable management of agricultural resources and forestry, the understanding of ALA determinants, and the development of future agricultural policies. Although ALA is widespread in Europe, mapping it over large areas using remote sensing data is difficult as a result of the complexity of this phenomenon. This study aims to develop methods for a detailed wall-to-wall regional-scale mapping of ALA using vegetation height and secondary forest succession indicators. The rates and distribution of ALA were analyzed at the parcel and communal level in the Polish Carpathians using a high-resolution vegetation height model (VHM) derived from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) point clouds and topographic data. Depending on the parcel-level secondary forest succession threshold (10, 20, and 50%), the regional ALA rates were 18.8, 9.0, and 2.1%, respectively. Regardless of the threshold, abandoned grasslands covered about three times more area than abandoned croplands. The highest ALA rates were observed in communes located in the western part of the study area, as well as east and south of Rzeszów. We found that areas receiving European Union Common Agricultural Policy payments very rarely showed signs of secondary forest succession and land abandonment. The developed method proved to be effective for detailed ALA mapping at various spatial scales.
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