The implementation of sustainable land policies is in need of monitoring methods that go beyond a mere description of the proportion values of land use classes. The annual statistical surface area report on actual land utilization (German: “Bodenfläche nach Art der tatsächlichen Nutzung”), published by the statistical offices of the German federal states and the federation, provides information on a set of pre-defined land use classes for municipalities, districts and federal states. Due to its surveying method of summing up usage information from cadastral registers, it is not possible to determine previous and subsequent usages of land parcels. Hence, it is hard to precisely indicate to what extent particular land use classes contribute to the settlement area increase. Nevertheless, this information is crucial to the understanding of land use change processes, which is needed for a subsequent identification of driving forces. To overcome this lack of information, a method for the spatial and quantitative determination of previous and subsequent land usages has been developed, implemented and tested. It is based on pre-processed land use data for different time slices, which are derived from authoritative geo-topographical base data. The developed method allows for the identification of land use changes considering small geometric shifts and changes in the underlying data model, which can be adaptively excluded from the balance.
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