The potential of old maps and encyclopaedias for reconstructing historic continental land cover/use change

R. Fuchs, P.H. Verburg, J.G.P.W. Clevers, M. Herold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Continental to global reconstructions of historic land cover/use are important inputs for many environmental, ecological and biogeochemical studies. While local to regional reconstructions frequently make use of old topographic maps and land use statistics, continental to global reconstructions are mostly model-based reconstructions. As a result they are subject to large uncertainties. A wealth of historic land cover/use maps and statistics have been produced and these are now more accessible due to the ending of copyrights and secrecy statuses, enthusiastic hobby communities and national cartographic institutes or cadastres that have a strategy towards data sharing with society. In this paper we made use of historic statistics and old topographic maps to demonstrate the added value for model-based reconstructions of historic land cover/use for Central Europe back to 1900. We harmonized these diverse data types and different types of historic land data were incorporated into the land use reconstructions. The added value of using these data was evaluated using historical maps by performing a reconstruction with and without the historic information. The accuracy of the land allocation in the historic reconstruction was improved by 16.5% using historic maps. Additionally, historic maps improved the representation of the spatial structure of landscapes. The historic land cover/use statistics used showed a strong agreement with independent estimates, like historic maps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-55
JournalApplied Geography
Volume59
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • spatially explicit
  • secondary lands
  • use transitions
  • wood-harvest
  • 3 centuries
  • hyde 3.1
  • conservation
  • resolution
  • forests
  • area

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