Manifestations and underlying drivers of agricultural land use change in Europe

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Agricultural land use in Europe has changed considerably in the last decades. However, our understanding of agricultural land use changes, especially changes in land use intensity, is limited because the evidence is fragmented. This paper presents a systematic review of case study evidence on manifestations and underlying drivers for agricultural land use change in Europe. We analyzed 137 studies that together report on 76 cases of intensification and 143 cases of disintensification. Observed changes were manifested as expansion or contraction of agricultural land as well as in changes of land management intensity, landscape elements, agricultural land use activity, and specialization/diversification. Economic, technological, institutional and location factors were frequently identified as underlying drivers, while demographic drivers and sociocultural drivers were mentioned less often. In addition, we found that farmers were very important as moderators between underlying drivers and manifestations of agricultural land use change. Farmer decisions differed between different farmer types, and according to their characteristics and attitudes. We found major land use change trajectories in relation to globalization of agricultural markets, the transition from a rural to an urban society, and the shift to post-socialism in central and eastern Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-36
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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