Modelling land use change and environmental impact
Land use change models are tools for understanding and explaining the causes and consequences of land use dynamics. Recently, new models, combining knowledge and tools from biophysical and socio-economic sciences, have become available. This has resulted in spatially explicit models focussed on patterns of change as well as agent-based models focused on the underlying decision processes. These developments improve the use of land use change models in environmental impact studies. This special issue documents these developments: (i) analysing the system properties in a biophysical and socio-economic context at multiple scales; (ii) integrating spatially explicit land use change models in integrated assessment models; (iii) visualising and quantifying the potential effects of land use change in trade-off curves, to support land users and policy makers in their decisions; and (iv) modelling of the actual decision making process with agent-based modelling. A new promising future development is the incorporation of dynamic feedbacks between changing land use and changing environmental conditions and vice versa. Unfortunately such dynamic feedbacks between the socio-economic and biophysical model components are still not or only partially operational in current models and are therefore the most important challenge for land use and environmental modellers. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.