Special Issue "Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alexander Prishchepov
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (IGN); University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 København K, Denmark
Interests: understanding the drivers of land-use land-cover change (LULCC); remote sensing of LULCC; sustainable land use
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Fabian Löw
Website
Guest Editor
MapTailor Geospatial Consulting GbR, Nassestrasse 13, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Interests: copernicus; disaster management; remote sensing image classification; SDG; Sendai; agriculture; time series analysis
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Florian Schierhorn
Website
Guest Editor
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Theodor-Lieser-Str. 2 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
Interests: land use change; crop growth modelling; telecoupling; climate change impact
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agricultural land abandonment is globally a widespread land-use change process, but not sufficiently studied as other land use changes, such as deforestation. As a result, there has been little progress in understanding the global patterns, drivers and implications of land abandonment, particularly outside Europe.

This Special Issue on "Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences" is dedicated to bringing advances on our understanding of the patterns, proximate, and underlying drivers of agricultural land abandonment. We highly encourage submission of integrative studies on agricultural land abandonment, which involve different techniques, such as remotely-sensed observations, land-use modeling, sociological–ecological and economic studies, as well as system dynamic and Earth system modeling. We invite submission of innovative sociological and anthropology works, as well as economic studies with causal inference. Studies are welcomed that carefully disentangle the effect of land-use legacies and trigger events (e.g., political shocks), and telecoupled land-use systems. We expect the submission of studies on implications to food security and environmental and human well-being. The Special Issue aims to shed light on the interaction of drivers of abandonment across various scales, including household and regional studies.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Prishchepov
Dr. Fabian Löw
Dr. Florian Schierhorn
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • drivers
  • patterns
  • land abandonment
  • decrease land use intensity
  • telecoupling
  • rural-urban transition

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Visual Typology of Abandonment in Rural America: From End-of-Life to Treading Water, Recycling, Renaissance, and Revival
Land 2020, 9(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030094 - 23 Mar 2020
Abstract
The contemporary American rural landscape reflects a mix of ongoing economic changes in agricultural land use, population change, and built environments. The mix depends on past and recent change which represent landscapes of memory and silence to those experiencing economic and demographic renaissance. [...] Read more.
The contemporary American rural landscape reflects a mix of ongoing economic changes in agricultural land use, population change, and built environments. The mix depends on past and recent change which represent landscapes of memory and silence to those experiencing economic and demographic renaissance. We develop a typology of five stages that reflect the contemporary rural scene and conduct field transects in Northwest Iowa and Central Maine. Features of the dynamics in rural America are evident in photographs of residences, land use changes, and commercial structure. The study calls for additional studies on rural settlement populations, economies, and society in different environmental settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Economic Comparison between Pasture-Based Beef Production and Afforestation of Abandoned Land in Swedish Forest Districts
Land 2020, 9(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020042 - 03 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Large areas of agricultural land have been abandoned or are at risk of being abandoned such as small scattered fields and pastures in forest-dominated landscapes are unsuitable for modern mechanized agriculture and cost-efficient grazing. These areas have therefore become unprofitable to cultivate and [...] Read more.
Large areas of agricultural land have been abandoned or are at risk of being abandoned such as small scattered fields and pastures in forest-dominated landscapes are unsuitable for modern mechanized agriculture and cost-efficient grazing. These areas have therefore become unprofitable to cultivate and graze. Spruce planting has been seen as the obvious alternative on these lands but is today questioned from landscape points of view. Now most abandoned land is left for natural afforestation. This study aims to compare the profitability in use of abandoned or marginal agricultural land in Swedish forest districts for spruce planting, natural birch afforestation, or organic beef cattle grazing large pasture-forest mosaics. The pastures consist of remaining semi-natural pastures, abandoned and marginal agricultural land, and adjacent forest land. Calculations of contribution to land, management, and risk suggest that, given present supports and environmental payments, organic beef production with herds of more than 20 suckler cows in large pasture-forest mosaics could be more profitable than forestry, except for in the most fertile areas of southern Sweden, where spruce planting has the highest contribution. Future tree breeding progress and possible decrease of livestock-related support and environmental payments would however increase the competitiveness of resumed afforestation relative to beef production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Outmigration and Land-Use Change: A Case Study from the Middle Hills of Nepal
Land 2020, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010002 - 18 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Outmigration has become a key livelihood strategy for an increasing number of rural households, which in turn has a profound effect on land management. Studies to date have mainly focused on migrant households, and there is limited literature on the differences in land [...] Read more.
Outmigration has become a key livelihood strategy for an increasing number of rural households, which in turn has a profound effect on land management. Studies to date have mainly focused on migrant households, and there is limited literature on the differences in land management practices of migrant and nonmigrant households. This article drew on a current study to explore how outmigration affects land management practices in the context of rapidly changing rural communities and economics in the middle hills of Nepal. The data were collected in Lamjung District in western Nepal using a mixed-method approach. We found that underutilization of farmland is a more prominent phenomenon than land abandonment, with rural communities moving to less intensive farming. Importantly, the increasing underutilization of farmland is not just occurring among migrant households. There are a range of complex factors which influence land-use decisions and the subsequent outcomes for landscapes. A high risk of food insecurity in Nepal is likely to be exacerbated if the current trajectory of underutilization and abandonment of farmland continues. A suite of policy tools that can be selectively applied depending on the local context may be more effective than broad-brush national policies in tackling the underlying causes faced by rural communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Degradation of Abandoned Farmland and Associated Eco-Environmental Risks in the High Mountains of the Nepalese Himalayas
Land 2020, 9(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010001 - 18 Dec 2019
Abstract
Globally, farmland abandonment has been a major phenomenon for eco-environmental and social landscape changes in the mountain regions. Farmland abandonment led to endangering the capacity of mountain ecosystems as well as variety of eco-environmental processes that play a pivotal role in regional as [...] Read more.
Globally, farmland abandonment has been a major phenomenon for eco-environmental and social landscape changes in the mountain regions. Farmland abandonment led to endangering the capacity of mountain ecosystems as well as variety of eco-environmental processes that play a pivotal role in regional as well local level eco-environment security. This research aims to (i) assess the spatiotemporal degradation of abandoned farmlands, (ii) identify the major causes of farmland degradation, and (iii) analyze the eco-environmental risks triggered or exacerbated by the degradation of abandoned farmlands. We conducted an inventory of the spatiotemporal distribution of abandoned farmlands and their degradation status with Google earth images and by modeling and interpreting low-height remote sensing images taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Geomorphic damages were mapped at the scale of individual abandoned farms. A multivariate regression statistical (MRS) model was used to identify the major causes of degradation. This research revealed that out of the total surveyed farmlands, 92% were already completely irreversibly damaged. The damages started with the disruption of terraces and bulging processes that occurred within the year after abandonment. This degradation induced diverse hazardous processes, such as landslides, debris flows, rock falls, the formation of gullies, soil erosion, and the development of sinkholes, which increase the negative effects of on both land resources and plant succession. Farmland abandonment does not automatically lead to plant colonization because geomorphic damage is intensified prior to colonization. Therefore, land management is required for plant colonization as well as other efforts to reduce degradation induced eco-environmental risk. This study thus could help land planners and environmentalists in the development of suitable guidelines (pre- or post-abandonment) plans, programmes, and legislation to effectively address the problem of abandoned farmland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Power of Agricultural Credit in Farmland Abandonment: Evidence from Rural China
Land 2019, 8(12), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8120184 - 04 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Labor, land, and funds are keys to revitalizing rural areas around the world. Previous studies have focused on the impacts of funds on agricultural production, but placed little emphasis on its role in agricultural land-use transformation. Thus, this study explores the quantitative relationship [...] Read more.
Labor, land, and funds are keys to revitalizing rural areas around the world. Previous studies have focused on the impacts of funds on agricultural production, but placed little emphasis on its role in agricultural land-use transformation. Thus, this study explores the quantitative relationship between agricultural credit and farmland abandonment from the perspective of rural revitalization. Using data on 8031 households from 27 provinces obtained from China’s Labor Force Dynamics Survey (CLDS), this study uses a Tobit model to examine the quantitative impacts of informal and formal agricultural credit on farmland abandonment. The results indicate that: (1) Access to agricultural credit helps to reduce farmland abandonment. (2) Compared with formal agricultural credit (provided by institutions), informal agricultural credit (provided by family and friends) is more significant in reducing farmland abandonment. Thus, this study enhances our understanding of the relationship between agricultural credit and farmland use. It will also prompt policymakers to improve rural financial markets in order to reduce the misallocation of farmland resources, thereby improving food security and rural economies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Wall-to-Wall Parcel-Level Mapping of Agricultural Land Abandonment in the Polish Carpathians
Land 2019, 8(9), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8090129 - 26 Aug 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessCommunication
Assessing Conflict Driven Food Security in Rakhine, Myanmar with Multisource Imagery
Land 2019, 8(6), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060095 - 14 Jun 2019
Abstract
Recent conflict along the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar has amplified a food security crisis and access to the region remains challenging. Moderate-resolution satellite remote sensing offers an approach to complement more traditional food insecurity hot spot assessment across Rakhine, Myanmar; however, conflict [...] Read more.
Recent conflict along the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar has amplified a food security crisis and access to the region remains challenging. Moderate-resolution satellite remote sensing offers an approach to complement more traditional food insecurity hot spot assessment across Rakhine, Myanmar; however, conflict creates unique signals that are not agroclimatologically driven and need to be considered. Time series radar and optical data cubes were built and used to assess for deviations across space and time for rice paddy production areas based on established techniques. Ultimately, the Sentinel-1 radar was more helpful compared to fused Landsat-7 and -8 and Sentinel-2 data cubes that were substantially impacted by cloud cover during key growth stages. Anecdotal reporting, very high resolution (VHR) imagery, and expert knowledge were used to support operational analyses routines in an attempt to characterize rice into failed, abandoned, and cultivated classes across 2016 to 2018 seasons. Accuracy assessment using co-timed VHR showed overall accuracy (%) of 86.5, 87.5, and 91.0 for 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. Nearly one-third of rice production was characterized as failed or abandoned in any given year. Qualitative analyses showed paddy failure was often adjacent to conflict events. The moderate-resolution imagery and automated routines offer complementing metrics that can be used to help guide food security assessments. In regions where climate change, migration, and conflict coincide, decision support tools will need to evolve and continue to integrate human perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Farmers’ Perceptions of Agricultural Land Abandonment in Rural Western New York State
Land 2018, 7(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7040128 - 27 Oct 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Over the last century, the U.S. economy has favored large-scale agribusiness over small-scale farming. In some regions, this trend has led to the abandonment of cultivated land, and there is little scholarly literature that discusses how farmers are affected. The goal of this [...] Read more.
Over the last century, the U.S. economy has favored large-scale agribusiness over small-scale farming. In some regions, this trend has led to the abandonment of cultivated land, and there is little scholarly literature that discusses how farmers are affected. The goal of this study was to examine Allegany County (NY) farmers’ perceptions of abandoned land and associated correlates. The data were collected through surveys mailed to farmers in Allegany County in 2012. We found that the majority of farmers felt personally affected by abandoned land and expressed the greatest amount of dissatisfaction with the state of the U.S. economy and local, state, and national regulations, especially if they considered themselves Republican. These findings address the sociopolitical significance of abandoned land and contribute to an understanding of how abandoned land affects residents of rural communities who are typically left out of discussions on policies affecting their livelihoods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
Cropland Abandonment in South African Smallholder Communal Lands: Land Cover Change (1950–2010) and Farmer Perceptions of Contributing Factors
Land 2018, 7(4), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7040121 - 16 Oct 2018
Cited by 14
Abstract
Despite agricultural land abandonment threatening the food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, it is pervasive globally and in developing countries. Yet land abandonment is an understudied aspect of land use change in social–ecological systems. Here we provide more information on this [...] Read more.
Despite agricultural land abandonment threatening the food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, it is pervasive globally and in developing countries. Yet land abandonment is an understudied aspect of land use change in social–ecological systems. Here we provide more information on this phenomenon by exploring cropland abandonment during 1950–2010 in four former South African ‘homelands’—part of the ‘Apartheid’ era racially-based land allocation programs—characterized by rural, smallholder farmers. Cropland abandonment 1950–2010 was widespread in all surveyed sites (KwaZulu: 0.08% year−1, Transkei: 0.13% year−1, Lebowa: 0.23% year−1, Venda: 0.28% year−1), with rates peaking between 1970 and 1990, with concomitant increases (up to 0.16% year−1) of woody vegetation cover at the expense of grassland cover. Active and past farmers attributed cropland abandonment to a lack of draught power, rainfall variability and droughts, and a more modernized youth disinclined to living a marginal agrarian lifestyle. We discuss the potential social and ecological implications of abandoned croplands at the local and regional scales, as the deagrarianization trend is unlikely to abate considering the failure of current South African national agricultural incentives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Synopsis of Farmland Abandonment and Its Driving Factors in Nepal
Land 2020, 9(3), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030084 - 16 Mar 2020
Abstract
Farmland abandonment is considered as an important phenomenon for changing eco-environmental and sociocultural landscapes of mountainous rural landscape. Many studies have analyzed farmland abandonment, its driving factors, geophysical processes and consequences at landscape: however, very few have focused on mountainous developing countries such [...] Read more.
Farmland abandonment is considered as an important phenomenon for changing eco-environmental and sociocultural landscapes of mountainous rural landscape. Many studies have analyzed farmland abandonment, its driving factors, geophysical processes and consequences at landscape: however, very few have focused on mountainous developing countries such as in Nepal, which is a rapidly urbanizing country suffering from serious farmland abandonment. Therefore, our study was an attempt to (i) assess the spatiotemporal extent of farmland abandonment in Nepal, (ii) explore driving factors of farmland abandonment, and (iii) discuss on the eco-environmental and sociocultural consequences in Nepal. We reviewed various literature, documents, and national reports to obtain a dataset pertaining to the overall status of farmland use and changes along with political and socioeconomic changes, economic development processes, and policy and governance in Nepal. Our results showed that farmland abandonment is widespread; however, it is more prevalent in the hilly and mountainous regions of Nepal. A total of 9,706,000 ha, accounting for 23.9% of the total cultivated farmland in Nepal, was abandoned during the period of 2001 to 2010. The driving factors included population growth, scattered distribution of settlements, urbanization, socio-economic development, poor access to physical services, and poor implementation of agriculture development policies. Furthermore, the increasing extent of natural disasters, malaria eradication, land reform and resettlement programs, the complex system of land ownership, land fragmentation, political instabilities, and the intensification of trading in agricultural products also acted as drivers of farmland abandonment in Nepal. Farmland abandonment generates negative effects on rural societies eco-environmentally and sociologically. Abandoned plots were subjected to different forms of geomorphic damage (e.g. landslide, debris flows, gully formation, sinkhole development etc.). Farmland landscape fragmented into a group of smaller interspersed patches. Such patches were opened for grassland. Furthermore, farmland abandonment also has effects on the local population and the whole society in terms of the production of goods (e.g., foods, feed, fiber), as well as services provided by the multi-functionality (e.g. sociocultural practices, values and norms) of the agricultural landscape. Therefore, this study plays an important role in planning and implementing eco-environmental management and social development processes in Nepal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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