Monday, April 5, 2010

Decision of land-use change : Proximate versus Underlying Causes

There are lots of factor influenced in making land-use decisions and environmental and social factors interact to influence these decisions mostly. Land use decisions are made and influenced by environmental and social factors across a wide range of spatial scales, from household level decisions that influence local land use practices, to policies and economic forces that can alter land use regionally and even globally.
The causes of land-use change can be divided into two categories: proximate (direct or local) and underlying (indirect or root). The proximate causes of land-use change explain how and why local land cover and ecosystem processes are modified directly by humans. The underlying causes explain the broader context and fundamental forces underpinning these local actions. In general, proximate causes operate at the local level (individual farms, households, or communities). And, underlying causes originate from regional (districts, provinces, or country) or even global levels. However, complex interplays between these levels of organization are common. As a result, underlying causes also tend to be complex, formed by interactions of social, political, economic, demographic, technological, cultural, and biophysical variables. Some local-scale factors are endogenous to decision makers and are therefore under local control. However, underlying causes are usually exogenous (originate externally) to the local communities managing land and are thus uncontrollable by these communities. In general, underlying causes tend to operate more diffusely (i.e., from a distance), often by altering one or more proximate causes.
Interaction of Causes
Land-use change is always caused by multiple interacting factors. The mix of driving forces of varies in time and space according to specific human-environment conditions. Biophysical drivers of land use change, such as droughts induced by climate change or loss of soil fertility by erosion may be as important as human drivers. It also includes economics and policy. As a result, biophysical factors tend to define the natural capacity or predisposing conditions for land-use change among localities and regions. Both biophysical (a drought or hurricane) and socioeconomic (a war or economic crisis) factors are responsible for land-use changes.
Crop choice decision also affects the decision to change in land use pattern. Land use change and crop choice decisions are determined simultaneously. Changing crop choices may lead to different profitability of farming operations, which may then influence land conversion themselves.
Other factors that have been found to influence land use change include land quality, land rents, population density, growth rates of population, per capita income, transportation, and accessibility to urban centers, demographic characteristics such as age and education, and policy. Land use rents are also considered as important land use change determinants.
Therefore, land-use changes tend to be driven by a combination of factors that work gradually and factors that happen intermittently.

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