Title: Assessment of Potential Forest Cover Changes in the Polish Carpathian Mts
Citation: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Framing Land Use Dynamics 2 p. 138-139
Publisher: Utrecht University
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC43478
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC43478
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Land cover change frequently involves a change of landscape spatial pattern. For example, forest cover changes may lead to an increase of forest patchiness, decrease of forest fragmentation or re-configuration of forest connectivity. These processes have a direct impact on forest biodiversity which is a key component of the European Union's environmental policy. In the Carpathian Mts., a slow increase of forest cover was observed across the 20th century, mostly as a result of shrinking area of agricultural land. This change affected the typical landscape of the mountains - a mosaic of crop fields, meadows, pastures, settlements and forests. As in all the Central and Eastern Europe the political and economic transformation of the 1990s accelerated the land use and land cover dynamics, and therefore there is an increasing uncertainty about future forest cover and pattern change scenarios. In this study we use geographic cellular automata (GCA) model to simulate forest cover changes in the Polish Carpathian Mountains until 2050. The GCA is built on a basis of a forest satellite maps for the 2000s, with a 28.5 m cell size, using a square region around the cell out to a diagonal of eight cells as a neighborhood and a 10 years time step. In the model, the transformation functions are based on variable forest cover and spatial pattern change rates found in the period 1930s-2000s. The rates are estimated for several case study areas, for which forest cover change detection was carried out on a basis of historic maps and contemporary satellite data. In the transformation functions, natural and anthropogenic determinants are used: land cover zones (agriculture and non-agriculture), accessibility (distances to main roads), altitude, slope gradients and demographic factors. Forest fragmentation is quantified as a ratio of edge forest area to core forest area. Four scenarios of the forest cover change are tested: Scenario A - increase of forest area and forest fragmentation; Scenario B - increase of forest area with reduction of forest fragmentation; Scenario C - decreasing rate of natural succession and afforestation and increase of forest fragmentation; Scenario D - decreasing rate of natural succession and afforestation with reduction of forest fragmentation. The models are validated using satellite forest maps for the 1990s, in addition to maps fo 1930s and 2000s. The results are discussed in the context of potential impacts of different forest cover change scenarios on forest biodiversity, with an attempt to put them into a context of European-wide reporting process on the status and evolution of European forest biodiversity.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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