Estimating demand for industrial and commercial land use given economic forecasts

F. Batista e Silva, E. Koomen, V. Diogo, C. Lavalle

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Current developments in the field of land use modelling point towards greater level of spatial and thematic resolution and the possibility to model large geographical extents. Improvements are taking place as computational capabilities increase and socioeconomic and environmental data are produced with sufficient detail. Integrated approaches to land use modelling rely on the development of interfaces with specialized models from fields like economy, hydrology, and agriculture. Impact assessment of scenarios/policies at various geographical scales can particularly benefit from these advances. A comprehensive land use modelling framework includes necessarily both the estimation of the quantity and the spatial allocation of land uses within a given timeframe. In this paper, we seek to establish straightforward methods to estimate demand for industrial and commercial land uses that can be used in the context of land use modelling, in particular for applications at continental scale, where the unavailability of data is often a major constraint. We propose a set of approaches based on 'land use intensity' measures indicating the amount of economic output per existing areal unit of land use. A base model was designed to estimate land demand based on regional-specific land use intensities; in addition, variants accounting for sectoral differences in land use intensity were introduced. A validation was carried out for a set of European countries by estimating land use for 2006 and comparing it to observations. The models' results were compared with estimations generated using the 'null model' (no land use change) and simple trend extrapolations. Results indicate that the proposed approaches clearly outperformed the 'null model', but did not consistently outperform the linear extrapolation. An uncertainty analysis further revealed that the models' performances are particularly sensitive to the quality of the input land use data. In addition, unknown future trends of regional land use intensity widen considerably the uncertainty bands of the predictions. © 2014 Batista e Silva et al.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e91991
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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