Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mapping human influence on land use

Nadya Anscombe in Environmental Research Web: A set of new indices that measure the influence of markets on global environmental change have been developed by researchers from the Netherlands, the US and France. The researchers hope that the data will enable more accurate modelling and prediction of man's impact on the environment.

"When looking at issues like land use, global data on parameters such as soil quality or climate are available with high spatial resolution," Peter Verburg from the Amsterdam Global Change Institute told environmentalresearchweb. "However, global socio-economic data is harder to obtain at high spatial resolution. When investigating land-use change and the influence of human activities on the environment, nationally averaged data, such as gross domestic product (GDP), do not give an accurate picture."

Markets have become one of the most important factors driving human activities and their interactions with the global environment. For this reason Verburg and his colleagues developed market-influence indices and assessed their strengths and weaknesses as predictors of global spatial patterns, such as land use, human populations, plant-species richness and biomes.

The indices that the team has calculated reflect market accessibility and market influence. The market-access index not only takes into account the distance that people need to travel to access a market but also their mode of transport and therefore the time and monetary cost involved. The two market-influence indices calculated by the researchers are measured either in dollars per capita (market influence) or dollars per square kilometre (market density)....

A land use map of Romania from 1990

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