Historic Land Use in the Carpathians

Land-cover change is a main component of global environmental change, affecting climate, biodiversity and ecosystem services, which in turn, affect land-use decisions. Humans have altered land cover for centuries and the temporal dimension of land use change is particularly important because land-use legacies may persist for centuries. Capturing historic land use over large areas and long time periods (e.g., centuries) is often impossible due to the lack of consistent, broad-scale and long-term data. Here, we compiled a spatially explicit, historic land use data set for the Carpathian Region (350.000 km2) in Eastern Europe, by harmonizing multiple historic map datasets and remotely-sensed land cover data.

Data on historic land uses is available for three time periods around 1860s (Habsburg Empire), 1930s (Interwar period) and 1960s (Socialism). Data on more recent time periods, is available from Landsat image composites (Griffiths et al. 2013, 2014). Data is available in a 2km point-grid format, consistent with European data standards and has been shown to capture well land uses at different points in time (Kaim et al 2016). In addition to land use information, data on several environmental, accessibility and socio-political variables is available at the point locations. As part of a larger project, historic land use data was analyzed in relation to contemporary land change processes and environmental data, to show the effect of land use legacies on recent land change ((Munteanu et al. 2015; Kaim et al. 2016), Munteanu et al, in press).  

Maps, Data, and metadata available for download






Please use the following references if you use the data for publication.

Related publications:

Griffiths, P., T. Kuemmerle, M. Baumann, V. C. Radeloff, I. V. Abrudan, J. Lieskovský, C. Munteanu, K. Ostapowicz, and P. Hostert. 2014. Forest disturbances, forest recover, and changes in forest types across the Carpathian ecoregion from 1985 to 2010 based on Landsat image composites. Remote Sensing of Environment 151:72–88.

Griffiths, P., D. Müller, T. Kuemmerle, and P. Hostert. 2013. Agricultural land change in the Carpathian ecoregion after the breakdown of socialism and expansion of the European Union. Environmental Research Letters 8:045024. IOP Publishing.

Kaim, D., J. Kozak, N. Kolecka, E. Ziółkowska, K. Ostafin, K. Ostapowicz, U. Gimmi, C. Munteanu, and V. C. Radeloff. 2016. Broad scale forest cover reconstruction from historical topographic maps. Applied Geography 67:39–48.

Munteanu, C. et al. 2015. Legacies of 19th century land use shape contemporary forest cover. Global Environmental Change 34:83–94.

Munteanu C, Kuemmerle T, Boltiziar M, Halada L, Kaim D, Király G, Konkoly-Gyuró E, Kozak J, Lieskovsky J, Mojses M, Müller D, Ostafin K, Ostapowicz K, Radeloff VC (in review): 19th century land-use legacies affect contemporary land abandonment in the Carpathians. Regional Environmental Change, in review