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Landscape changes and their influence on the heterogeneity of landscape of the South Bohemian Region, the Czech Republic

International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology

Abstract

Landscapes reflect both historic and current cultural and socio-economic activities of human societies. Accordingly, as human societies change, the landscape changes as well. Agriculture is the main driver of landscape changes in the Czech Republic. Therefore, it is necessary to devote special attention to agricultural practices and define simple but effective steps to improve landscape mosaics towards a sustainable development. In this study, regional information about historic changes in landscape structure was studied to (1) identify the trends in land use/cover development since 1940 to 2010 and (2) determine the impact of land use change on the resulting heterogeneity of the landscape. The overall purpose was to find areas of compromise which would allow strengthening of landscape structure and thus stabilize its functions. We specified trends of land use/cover development in 15 catchments with varying agriculture intensity. We digitalized aerial photographs from 1940, 1960, and 1990 and orthophotomaps from 2010. Then, we used a heterogeneity index to define landscape heterogeneity in all catchments and time horizons. The results of our research confirmed increasing tillage effort in intensively cultivated areas, support of secondary succession processes in marginalized areas, and overall increase in forest area. Our study found that simplification and homogenization of the landscape mosaic took place in all studied areas, with the steepest decline found in areas with high agriculture intensity. However, linear vegetation proved to be a suitable starting point for a targeted effort to increase heterogeneity and thus seemed to be crucial for sustainable development of landscape functions in agroecosystems.

Author(s): Kadlecova, V; Dramstad, WE; Semancikova, E; Edwards, KR

Journal: International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology

Year: 2012

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