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A Review and Assessment of Land-Use Change Models Dynamics of Space, Time, and Human Choice

Land-use change models are used by researchers and professionals to explore the dynamics and drivers of land-use/land-cover change and to inform policies affecting such change. A broad array of models and modeling methods are available to researchers, and each type has certain advantages and disadvantages depending on the objective of the research. This report presents a review of different types of models as a means of exploring the functionality and ability of different approaches. In this review, we try to explicitly incorporate human processes, because of their centrality in land-use/land-cover change. We present a framework to compare land-use change models in terms of scale (both spatial and temporal) and complexity, and how well they incorporate space, time, and human decisionmaking. Initially, we examined a summary set of 250 relevant citations and developed a bibliography of 136 papers. From these 136 papers a set of 19 land-use models were reviewed in detail as
representative of the broader set of models identified from the more comprehensive review of literature. Using a tabular approach, we summarize and discuss the 19 models in terms of dynamic (temporal) and spatial interactions, as well as human decisionmaking as defined by the earlier framework. To eliminate the general confusion surrounding the term scale, we evaluate each model with respect to pairs of analogous parameters of spatial, temporal, and decisionmaking scales: (1) spatial resolution and extent, (2) time step and duration, and (3) decisionmaking agent and domain. Although a wide range of spatial and temporal scales is
covered collectively by the models examined, we find most individual models occupy a much more limited spatio temporal niche. Many raster models we examined mirror the extent and resolution of common remote-sensing data. The broadest-scale models are, in general, not spatially explicit. We also find that models incorporating higher levels of human decision making are more centrally located with respect to spatial and temporal scales,
probably due to the lack of data availability at more extreme scales. Further, we examine the social drivers of land-use change and methodological trends exemplified in the models we reviewed. Finally, we conclude with some proposals for future directions in land-use modeling.

Contact Person
Chetan Agarwal
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Center for the Study of Institutions Population, and Environmental Change Indiana University
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Bioenergy Category
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