This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 265104


Long term studies – WP4
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WP4 aims at the analysis of long-term land system dynamics, land-use transitions and management regime shifts in Europe. Examples for such transitions or regime shifts in land systems include the forest transition (i.e., the shift from net deforestation to net reforestation driven by urbanization and industrialization) during the first half of the 20th century, or the drastic intensification in land use in many European countries during the second half of the 20th century.
This work package focuses on the national scale and on a timeframe of about 150-200 years (i.e., back to the 19th century).
For a number of countries, covering a broad range of different land use trajectories, consistent empirical databases on land-use change and underlying parameters will be compiled and systematically analysed.



The selection of countries is aimed to cover a broad geographic, thematic and political differences prevailing in Europe, e.g.  related climatic zones, population size and density, agricultural focus and development, economic development and industrialization trajectories, dominant land use types and land-related environmental concerns.

The following topics will be addressed:

Albania Eastern-European, Mediterranean small country with late industrialization. After 1945 collectivization of the agricultural production system. Weak economy with a significant portion of subsistence agriculture, low-medium population density. Period of instability and institutional decay after the collapse of socialism. Privatization and individualization of land use. Currently not a member of the EU.

Austria Complex topography, small-scale industrialized agriculture, important globalized forestry sector, late industrialization, almost balanced foreign trade, low-medium population density. Land intensification and extensification occur simultaneously.
Germany Large country with high population density. Fast, early industrialization and globalization. Two different development paths after WW2. Reunification and thus immediate accession of East-Germany to the EU in 1990.
Italy Densely populated Mediterranean country with intensive large-scale agriculture in the humid North (Po valley) and dry land agriculture with large-scale irrigation in the South. Large-scale exporter of horticultural products. Soil erosion and land degradation in some regions virulent.

The Netherlands Intensive industrialized agriculture, massive foreign trade, Net-Import-dependent (biophysical), increasing surface area due to land claiming, highest population density (380 cap/km2). Early globalized economy.

Romania Complex and balanced topography between mountains, hills, plateau, plains, costal and inner deltas and sea costal. Pre-1945 similar development to Austria with late industrialization. After 1945 collectivization and large-scale agriculture. After 1989 farmland abandonment. Privatization and individualization of land use. Massive changes in forest ownership (restitution).
Sweden Forestry dominated, northern climate zone with low population density. Extensive grazing in the North, in pre-1900 shifting cultivation in agriculture common. Export-oriented forestry sector.

United Kingdom Origin of industrialization, industrialized large-scale intensive agriculture, Import dependency, high population density (245 cap/km2).

Empirical analyses and the establishment of in-depth databases will be complemented by qualitative information on drivers, nature, and outcomes of past land-use transitions in most European countries, derived in a narrative approach based on expert knowledge: For each country, a 3-5 page narrative of land use history for the past 150-200 years is produced – including both agriculture and forestry, with particular reference to land use transitions such as agricultural expansion, intensification/extensification, changes in crop choices, forest transitions, changes in land tenure, shifts in market orientation, etc. Second, the major drivers of these changes (‘mega-drivers’), for instance population changes, technological changes, institutional changes and economical changes are being described. Finally, the information on drivers and substantial land use changes are used to identify land management regimes representing periods of characteristic combinations of drivers.


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