Mapping and modelling of changes in agricultural intensity in Europe

A.J.A.M. Temme, P.H. Verburg

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82 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial maps of agricultural intensity are needed for analyses of environmental issues, including biodiversity changes. We present a method to produce such maps for Europe. While most studies beyond farm level focus on land cover change only, this paper focuses on spatial variation in land use intensity and its dynamics. Our method defines agricultural land use intensity in terms of nitrogen input. For arable land, it combines field observations with administrative-level statistics to assess probability of occurrence for three land use intensity classes. For grassland, it uses maps of livestock density to assess probability of occurrence for two intensity classes. Agricultural land is spatially allocated to intensity classes using an algorithm that downscales intensity changes simulated with an agricultural economic model. Our results are 1 km2 resolution maps of classified agricultural land use intensity in the year 2000. We illustrate the method by exploring changes in the spatial pattern of land use intensity for a financial policy reform scenario in the year 2025. Results indicate spatial heterogeneity in land use intensity across European countries, including large differences in intensity between countries, between regions, but also within regions. Our method could be improved with smaller-resolution agricultural statistics and broader intensity indicators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-56
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • land-use intensity
  • biodiversity
  • intensification
  • impacts
  • landscapes
  • scenarios

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