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Modelling future land use scenarios based on farmers’ intentions and a cellular automata approach

Gomes, Eduardo, Abrantes, Patrícia, Banos, Arnaud, Rocha, Jorge
Land use policy 2019 v.85 pp. 142-154
agricultural land, arable soils, case studies, decision making, economic trends, farmers, forests, irrigated farming, land use and land cover maps, land use change, models, uncertainty, urbanization, Portugal
Different mechanisms drive land use and land cover changes (LUCC). This paper presents an exploratory analysis aimed at understanding the complex dynamics of LUCC based on farmers’ intentions when they are faced with four scenarios with the time horizon of 2025: (1) A0 – current social and economic trend; (2) A1 – intensified agricultural production; (3) A2 – reduced agricultural production; and (4) B0 - increasing demand for urban development. LUCC models are applied to a Torres Vedras (Portugal) case study. This territory is located in a peri-urban area near Lisbon dominated by forest and agricultural land, which has been suffering considerable urban pressure in the last decades. Farmers — major agents of agricultural land use change — were interviewed to obtain their LUCC intentions according to the scenarios studied. To model LUCC a Cellular automata-Markov chain approach was applied. Our results suggest that significant LUCC will occur depending on their intentions in the different scenarios. The highlights are: (1) the highest growth in permanently irrigated land in the A1 scenario; (2) the biggest drop in non-irrigated arable land, and the highest growth in forest in the A2 scenario; and (3) the greatest urban growth was recognized in the B0 scenario. To verify if the fitting simulations performed well, techniques to measure agreement and quantity-allocation disagreements were applied.These outcomes could provide decision-makers with the capacity to observe different possible futures in ‘what if’ scenarios, allowing them to anticipate future uncertainties, and consequently allowing them the possibility to choose the more desirable future.