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Agricultural land-use change and its drivers in mountain landscapes: a case study in the Pyrenées.

26 novembre 2007

Mottet, A. ; Ladet, S. ; Coque, N. ; Gibon, A.
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 2005, 114 (2-4) : 296-310.
Article
Research studies aimed at integrating socio-economic and geo-bio-physical factors are increasingly being used in order to improve our understanding of the causes and effects of land-use change and to support sustainable landscape development. In line with such approaches, the study reported in this paper addresses land-use change and its drivers in the peripheral area of the Pyrenees National Park (PNP), France. The focus is land-use change on private farmland currently utilised by the farmers. The method relies on a Geographic Information System (GIS), including a digital terrain model, a digital cadastre map and a farm survey addressing current and past land use. For every parcel of land, data on current land-use practices and land-use histories since 1950 were collected during interviews with the farmers. An increase in land-use intensity occurred on some of the parcels in the late 1980s and 1990s, in contrast with the global processes of abandonment or extensification since the early 1960s. This intensification process appears to be related not only to the application of agri-environmental policies but also to specific local factors, in particular to the building of an access road to the highest part of the village. The respective roles of bio-physical factors (slope and elevation) and farm socio-economic factors (farmland spatial pattern, land-tenure system) on land-use change at parcel level have also been investigated. The impact of slope and elevation on land-use type appears overall to have been greater in 2003 than in 1950. However, these factors impact differently according to the types of landscape unit: they are not determining factors in the units remote from the village, but they do have an important role in the units close to the village. The distances of the parcels from the farmstead and their access facilities appear to be the two major farm-related factors in the local context. These results confirm the important role of land-management units’ spatial arrangement in land-use dynamics and landscape change, as has already been found in other regions. They are seen as a valuable addition to studies aimed at supporting sustainable management of traditional mountain landscapes for multifunctional purposes.