The Environmental Geography group studies processes of land change at scales ranging from local to global.
The majority of the earth’s land surface has been altered by humans, predominantly to produce food, feed and to provide shelter. These alterations have caused many changes in land cover, including a decrease in forest cover and other natural areas, and an increase in cropland and built-up areas. However, land change does not necessarily lead to land cover change: intensification of agricultural land management and changes from subsistence to market oriented agriculture may have strong impacts on the functioning of the land system and its impacts on human well-being.
As different scales require different approaches, we employ a range of methods including case studies, meta-studies, land-change modeling, and spatial analysis to analyze land change.
Characteristic for our approach is:
- the representation of land cover and land use as Land Systems which are socio-ecological systems in which land use and land cover are the result of dynamic interactions of humans with their environment
- the multi-scale approach in which local dynamics are influenced by global processes and where local responses feed back to the well-being of the global population
- the use of quantitative, spatially explicit methods and models to inform, initiate and nuance discussions with stakeholders and policy makers, using historic and scenario analysis to inform a more sustained use of the land for the future
Selected key publications:
- Ariti, A.T., Vliet, J. van & Verburg, P.H. (2015). Land-use and land-cover changes in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia: Assessment of perception and adaptation by stakeholders. Applied Geography, 65, 28-37.
- Eitelberg, D.A., Vliet, J. van & Verburg, P.H. (2015). A review of global potentially available cropland estimates and their consequences for model-based assessments. Global Change Biology, 21 (3), 1236-1248.
- Fuchs, R., Herold, M., Clevers, J. & Verburg, P.H. (2015). Net change versus gross change in historic land use reconstructions. Global Change Biology, 21 (1), 299-313.
- Vliet, J. van, Groot, H.L.F. de, Rietveld, P. & Verburg, P.H. (2015). Manifestations and underlying drivers of agricultural land use change in Europe. Landscape and Urban Planning, 133, 24-36.