Land use change modelling: Current practice and research priorities

Peter H. Verburg*, Paul P. Schot, Martin J. Dijst, A. Veldkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

775 Citations (Scopus)


Land use change models are tools to support the analysis of the causes and consequences of land use dynamics. Scenario analysis with land use models can support land use planning and policy. Numerous land use models are available, developed from different disciplinary backgrounds. This paper reviews current models to identify priority issues for future land use change modelling research. This discussion is based on six concepts important to land use modelling: (1) Level of analysis; (2) Cross-scale dynamics; (3) Driving forces; (4) Spatial interaction and neighbourhood effects; (5) Temporal dynamics; and (6) Level of integration. For each of these concepts an overview is given of the variety of methods used to implement these concepts in operational models. It is concluded that a lot of progress has been made in building land use change models. However, in order to incorporate more aspects important to land use modelling it is needed to develop a new generation of land use models that better address the multi-scale characteristics of the land use system, implement new techniques to quantify neighbourhood effects, explicitly deal with temporal dynamics and achieve a higher level of integration between disciplinary approaches and between models studying urban and rural land use changes. If these requirements are fulfilled models will better support the analysis of land use dynamics and land use policy formulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Integrated assessment
  • Land use change
  • Modelling
  • Spatial dynamics


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