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Investigating the regional-scale pattern of agricultural land abandonment in the Swiss mountains: A spatial statistical modelling approach



Investigating the regional-scale pattern of agricultural land abandonment in the Swiss mountains: A spatial statistical modelling approach



Landscape and Urban Planning 79(1): 65-76



In many European mountain regions, agricultural land abandonment and the related consequences for the environment are issues of increasing concern. During the last few decades, natural forest re-growth has steadily replaced agricultural land in the Swiss mountains. This is a region where forms of traditional cultivation have preserved unique landscapes and habitats of high ecological value. The aim of this study was to investigate the recent regional-scale pattern of agricultural land abandonment, as indicated by forest re-growth, in the Swiss mountains. For this. we developed multivariate spatial statistical models on the basis of mountain-wide land-use change data, evaluated between the 1980s and 1990s, and selected geo-physical and socio-economic variables. Results show that regions with shallow soils, steep slopes and under-developed road infrastructure were favoured in terms of land abandonment and forest re-growth. These regions were also characterised by low proportions of full-time farms. In some regions, strong labour markets were related to higher abandonment rates, but this is not a general trend in Swiss mountainous regions. We found no relationship between land abandonment and migration, which contrasts with findings in other European mountain regions. One model suggests a spatial 'spillover' effect, causing similar abandonment rates in adjacent regions, although this could not be proven in this study. We conclude that decision-makers should consider non-linearity in the pattern of land abandonment and the fact that part-time farming is related to land abandonment when designing measures to react to land abandonment and its consequences.

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Accession: 012986449

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DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2006.03.004


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