Recent historical land use change on the South Downs, United Kingdom

Burnside, Niall, Smith, Roger and Waite, S. (2003) Recent historical land use change on the South Downs, United Kingdom Environmental Conservation, 30 (1). pp. 52-60. ISSN 1469-4387

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Abstract

There is considerable interest in the fragmentation and loss of natural and semi-natural habitats, but few studies have examined the dynamics and mechanisms of change. A temporal analysis of landscape change on the South Downs in Sussex, UK, provides a clear description of the process of change over the 20 years 1971–1991. Transition probabilities were calculated from digital interpretations of an aerial photography time series of West Sussex. The analysis enabled quantitative comparison of landscape mosaics within different landscape ecoregions and under different management regimes to be made. Past changes in land use have produced a fragmented downland landscape. The key land conversion sequences identified show a substantial transition towards arable production, often at the expense of the internationally and nationally important unimproved grassland systems. A geographical information system facilitated greater understanding of the environmental and topographical characteristics of land converted to arable and other uses, and highlighted areas for protection and potential restoration. The patterns of land-use conversion observed in the study provide a landscape-scale planning tool for assessing the potential impact of agri-environmental policies, plans, and programmes in semi-natural grassland habitats.

Item Type: Journal article
Additional Information: © 2003 Cambridge University Press
Uncontrolled Keywords: land-use change; geographical information systems; calcareous grassland; ecoregions
Subjects: F000 Physical Sciences > F800 Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1017/S0376892903000043
Faculties: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environment and Technology > Ecology, Landscape and Pollution Management
Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environment and Technology
Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences
Depositing User: editor environment
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2006
Last Modified: 21 May 2014 11:02
URI: http://eprints.brighton.ac.uk/id/eprint/122

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