From land cover change to land function dynamics: A major challenge to improve land characterization

P.H. Verburg, J. van de Steeg, A. Veldkamp, L. Willemen

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337 Citations (Scopus)


Land cover change has always had a central role in land change science. This central role is largely the result of the possibilities to map and characterize land cover based on observations and remote sensing. This paper argues that more attention should be given to land use and land functions and linkages between these. Consideration of land functions that provide a wide range of goods and services makes more integrated assessments of land change possible. The increasing attention to multifunctional land use is another incentive to develop methods to assess changes in land functions. A number of methods to quantify and map the spatial extent of land use and land functions are discussed and the implications for modeling are identified based on recent model approaches in land change science. The mixed use of land cover, land use and land function in maps and models leads to inconsistencies in land change assessments. Explicit attention to the non-linear relations between land cover, land use and land function is essential to consistently address land change. New methods to map and quantify land function dynamics will enhance our ability to understand and model land system change and adequately inform policies and planning. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1327-1335
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • ecosystem services
  • multifunctional landscapes
  • agricultural abandonment
  • methodological issues
  • environmental-change
  • mountain landscapes
  • dependent errors
  • spatial-pattern
  • future
  • deforestation

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