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Typology of physical-geographical regions in Poland in line with land-cover structure and its changes in the years 1990-2006


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The authors used a division of Poland into physical-geographical regions to present diversity in terms of land cover, and to distinguish a typology of natural units (mesoregions), in terms of both the nature of the said cover in 2006, and changes in that cover over the two time intervals 1990-2000 and 2000-2006. Individual mesoregions were assigned to the different types in regard to the two periods, this making it possible to illustrate the regional distribution of land-cover changes in Poland, with account taken of stability on the one hand, or changes as regards trends on the other. The results obtained may provide objective premises for the selection of representative spatial units in geographical, as well as landscape or ecological, research.
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Geographia Polonica
Volume 86, Issue 3, pp. 255-266
The spatial diversity of the environment – under-
stood as the natural surroundings of human
beings together with the products of material cul-
ture – represents one of the fundamental research
areas for geographers. In the second half of the
previous century, in Central and Eastern Europe
in particular, regionalization methods were devel-
oped to select relatively uniform spatial units
and to arrange them into hierarchies. Attempts
at dividing the country into physical-geograph-
ical regions have also been made and are still
being made in Poland – see work by Krygowski
(1961), Bar tkowski (1968), Żynda (1978), Czeppe
and German (1980) and Niewiarowski and Kot
(2011). Among other concepts, there was general
acceptance of the decimal division developed by
Kondracki (1955, 1974), as presented in the Polish
National Atlas; the last version of this appearing
in the Atlas of the Republic of Poland (Kondracki
& Richling 1994). This offers a hierarchical system
by which to arrange Poland’s physical-geograph-
ical regional units. The procedure used in delimi-
tation is based around differences in the origin
and nature of relief and lithology (as these reflect
features of stable environmental components), as
well as on the more labile components and forms
of use of these environments by humans that fol-
low on from basic environmental conditioning.
Units designated in this manner are characterized
by specific physiognomic traits, this ensuring ease
IN THE YEARS 1990-2006
Damian ŁowickiAndrzej Mizgajski
Adam Mickiewicz University
Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences
Dzięgielowa 27, 61-680 Poznań: Poland
e-mail addresses:;
The authors used a division of Poland into physical-geographical regions to present diversity in terms of land cover, and to
distinguish a typology of natural units (mesoregions), in terms of both the nature of the said cover in 2006, and changes
in that cover over the two time intervals 1990-2000 and 2000-2006. Individual mesoregions were assigned to the differ-
ent types in regard to the two periods, this making it possible to illustrate the regional distribution of land-cover changes
in Poland, with account taken of stability on the one hand, or changes as regards trends on the other. The results obtained
may provide objective premises for the selection of representative spatial units in geographical, as well as landscape or
ecological, research.
Key words
land-cover changes • division into physical-geographical regions • regional divisions • Corine Land Cover • Poland
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
256 Damian Łowicki • Andrzej Mizgajski
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
of use in landscape research, e.g. Bogdanowski
(1973), Bielecka (2007), Kozieł (2007), Śleszyński
(2007) and Dmowska (2008). The hierarchical
regionalization of Poland may be used more
broadly in presenting diversity and change in the
spatial structure of human activity, as expressed
through land use. In the methodological aspect,
it opens up the area of research into the contem-
porary natural conditions of use of the environ-
ment and, in the practical aspect, it enhances the
basis for concepts and spatial development plans
on the national and regional scales to be updated.
Changes in land-use structure in Poland are
used as an index of anthropogenic pressure on the
natural environment and serve as a significant ele-
ment to landscape development (Łowicki 2008b;
Solon 2008a). The reduction of information on the
landscape to that concerning the structure of land
use, in lowland areas especially, is something that
facilitates analysis as cartographic research meth-
ods, including quantitative analyses and visualiza-
tion on maps, are made use of. This in turn allows
for formalized comparison of landscape changes
(Łowicki & Mizgajski 2005), research into useful-
ness as regards individual functions (Wyrzykowski
1991) and classification (Solon 2008b). A special
trend to contemporary research involves the rec-
ognition of changes in land use within the frame-
work of research on the spatial development of
cities and urban areas in contexts that are natural,
e.g. Matuszyńska (2001), economic, e.g. Luchter
(1997), Małuszyńska (2000), or architectural, e.g.
Przegon (2011). As data concerning land use are
collected for the entire country in line with the
administrative division, the borders of each unit of
local administration in Poland known as the gmina
are used as the basic units in landscape-ecolog-
ical research (Łowicki 2008a; Solon 2011) – this
despite the obvious failure to reflect changeability
of environmental conditions.
The first map of Poland’s land use was enti-
tled “Land use”, and was prepared in 1916 by
Eugeniusz Romer, on the scale 1:5,000,000 (after
Ciołkosz & Bielecka 2005). After the World War II,
numerous attempts were made to create maps of
land use on a more detailed scale. Unfortunately,
the vast workload required by such detailed stud-
ies would continue to ensure failures of the project
to extend across the whole area of Poland. A first
map of land use within the post-War borders of
Poland (at a scale of 1:1,000,000 and on the basis
of topographic maps of that scale) was prepared
by Uhorczak (1969). Later land-use maps were
created for the whole area of Poland on the basis
of satellite images rather than mapping. The first
map of Poland’s land cover based on images pro-
vided by the LANDSAT satellite was published in
1980, at a scale of 1:500,000 (Ciesielski & Cioł-
kosz 1980). This and subsequent maps have pro-
vided the source for numerous specialised publi-
cations. The synthesizing map published in the
Atlas of the Republic of Poland is particularly
worth mentioning, as it offered a regional divi-
sion of Poland’s landscapes (Richling et al. 1995).
The development of remote-sensing techniques
popularized the term ’land cover’, as similar to the
concept of ’land use’, which usually corresponds to
land development. However, these two terms may
not be regarded as synonymous. The term ’land
cover’ reflects a physiognomic aspect, while a spe-
cific type of land use reflects the form of utilization
by people. The importance of land-use changes
being monitored in support of regional develop-
ment programs, as well as the management of
water resources and quality, and the management
of natural resources, has gained the recognition
of both the European Commission and the Euro-
pean Environment Agency (EEA), these organiza-
tions being the founders of the Corine Land Cover
project (CLC) of 1990, whose scope extended
to the then Member States, as well as to the EU
candidate countries. Updates were generated in
the years 2000 and 2006, and a further one is
in preparation. Common access to relatively uni-
form CLC databases has demonstrably increased
interest in their use in spatial analyses, e.g. Wawer
and Nowocień (2006), Koz ieł (2008), Solon (2008b).
The start of the CLC project coincided with
a key economic transition event in Poland’s history.
The opportunity to examine social and economic
transformation arose, not only in respect of statis-
tical indicators, but also in the spatial dimension,
by reference to changes in land use. Social and
economic changes associated with the transfor-
mation did indeed result in an increased volume
of landscape changes, these mainly relating to the
processes of suburbanisation, recreational devel-
opment, the elimination of roadside trees and ave-
nues, and the devastation of historical spatial sys-
tems (Kistowski 2006). Specifically, changes in land
use associated with the transformation in Poland
stem from factors of an economic, administrative,
legal and social nature. The economic factors are
taken to include the privatisation of state prop-
257Typology of physical-geographical regions in Poland in line with land-cover structure…
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
erty and the emergence of numerous small and
medium-sized enterprises, as well as decreased
support for agriculture and a consequent diver-
gence of development potentials between urban
and rural areas. The effect was a rapid increase
in developed areas at the expense of agricultural
land. Some agricultural land was also left fallow
or afforested. These are phenomena operating at
the level of whole villages (Skowronek et al. 2005).
In the transition period, the numbers of livestock
decreased gradually, in line with a transfer of
production from small farms to larger facilities
reflecting the need for expensive imported feeds
(Zegar 2003). There were also landscape conse-
quences in the form of a decline in the area of
pastureland (Mizgajski 2003). Among administra-
tive and legal factors, the most important in this
period was the introduction of local government
in 1990. Since then, spatial planning and changes
in land development have been controlled by local
authorities. Control has in part been exercised by
way of local spatial plans, though these are not
mandatory, and so are far from universal. It is in
fact more common for local authorities to issue
building permits by means of individual decisions,
rather than on the basis of spatial management
plans. The effect of this is a dispersion of build-
ings and an overall extension of built-up areas. The
social factor that has become fundamental to the
shaping of the landscape is in turn the right to pri-
vate property. Property owners want to use their
land at their own discretion, notwithstanding the
conflict this generates when set against common
needs at local, regional or even national levels.
As GIS techniques and access to vector-based
databases have developed, research on land-
scape typology and regionalisation has become
widespread (Gulinck et al. 2001; Solon 2008b; Van
Eetvelde & Antrop 2009). These use land cover as
one of the landscape features, alongside soil qual-
ity, potential vegetation, and terrain characteris-
tics. These studies commonly also take account of
rates of composition and configuration of patches
of land cover. It can be concluded that the studies
so far have been efficient in recognizing the struc-
ture of land cover at the landscape level.
The main aims of the work detailed in this ar ticle
has been to present the regional diversity to land-
cover structure in Poland, as well as contemporary
changes in that structure on the basis of CLC data
for the years 1990-2006. Analysis was conducted
for 316 mesoregions treated as the lower hierar-
chical level of a division of Poland into physical-
geographical regions. The results obtained, as
augmented by the available analytical database
( allow for the iden-
tification of regional units (mesoregions) charac-
terized by different types of spatial structure and
directions to changes. Objective premises are thus
offered for the selection of representative spatial
units for use in geographical research, as well as
studies in landscape ecology. The in-depth diag-
nosis of changes in land cover over the period of
systemic transformation can be treated as a syn-
thetic indicator of the quality and dynamics of
economic processes occurring on a regional scale,
with the effect that findings should stimulate plan-
ning and legislative action alike.
Materials and methods
The Corine Land Cover (CLC) databases from the
years 1990, 2000 and 2006 were used to ana-
lyze land cover in Poland. A direct comparison of
data from the years 1990 and 2006 proved to
be impossible, as the databases were adjusted
during the programme. Thus, for the years 1990-
2000, areas smaller than 25 ha were isolated,
while for the years 2000-2006 considerations
were confined to areas larger than 25 ha. This
resulted in differences in the surface area balance
and ensured that the databases from the years
1990 and 2000, and from the years 2000 and
2006, were compared separately from each other.
The research questions considered involved:
the defining of characteristics of land cover for
the year 2006, as well as the changes affecting
selected land-cover elements in Poland’s mes-
oregions in the 1990-2000 and 2000-2006
time intervals,
the distinguishing of mesoregion types in
Poland in line with their characteristic land
cover in 2006,
the distinguishing of mesoregions types in
Poland in line with changes in the shares of
developed land and forest cover in the years
1990-2000 and 2000-2006.
The research was conducted using descriptive
statistics and spatial analysis of mesoregions in
line with the size of changes in the surface areas
of the most important land-cover types. A vector
map for the division of Poland into regions was
drawn up on the basis of a raster graphics image
at a scale of 1:1,500,000 from the Atlas of the
258 Damian Łowicki • Andrzej Mizgajski
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
Republic of Poland (Kondracki & Richling 1994).
The land cover for the country as a whole was pre-
sented in line with the CLC database for the years
1990, 2000 and 2006, including subdivisions
at the first level of detail, i.e. artificial surfaces,
agricultural areas, forests and semi-natural areas
and bodies of water. The names of the land-cover
types were used in line with CLC nomenclature.
The typology of mesoregions on the basis of
land-cover structure has been based on the pro-
portions of three main types of cover accounting
for nearly 98% of Poland’s surface area, i.e. agri-
cultural areas, forests and semi-natural areas and
artificial surfaces. The adopted definitions are
consistent with the CLC description, although it
needs to be remembered that the vast majority of
agricultural areas represent arable land, while the
percentage of semi-natural areas is very low when
compared with that of forests, while artificial sur-
faces are dominated by urban fabric.
With a view to the method of designating mes-
oregion types being formalized, use was made of
borderline values of +/-0.5 standard deviation (SD)
from the mean for the country as a whole. A type
of cover was regarded as dominant if its share in
the surface area of the mesoregion was higher
than +0.5 SD; while types of cover with a share
falling within the range from -0.5 to 0.5 SD were
regarded as accompanying land cover. The princi-
ples underpinning the classification into mesore-
gions are as presented in Table 1.
The synthetic diagnosis of changes in land-cov-
er structure in mesoregions was based on analysis
of increases in the share of two land-cover types:
artificial surfaces and forests. These accounted for
73% of all increases in the years 1990-2000 and
84% of the increases in the years 2000-2006, and
increase in their share usually took place at the
expense of agricultural land. Mesoregion types
according to land-cover changes were designated
Table 1. Methodology for the classification of Poland into mesoregions in line with characteristic land cover
in 2006.
Type of mesoregion
Share of land-cover
types measured in SD
forests and
semi-natural areas
1 Distinctly artificial (+) (–) (–)
1.1 Distinctly artificial and averagely forested (+) (0) (–)
1.2 Distinctly artificial and averagely
(+) (0) (0)
1.3 Distinctly artificial and averagely
(+) (–) (0)
2 Distinctly forested (–) (+) (–)
2.1 Distinctly forested and averagely artificial (0) (+) (–)
2.2 Distinctly forested and averagely
(–) (+) (0)
2.3 Distinctly forested and averagely
agricultural- artificial
(0) (+) (0)
3 Distinctly agricultural (–) (–) (+)
3.1 Distinctly agricultural and averagely artificial (0) (–) (+)
3.2 Distinctly agricultural and averagely
(–) (0) (+)
3.3 Distinctly agricultural and averagely
(0) (0) (+)
4 Forested-artificial (+) (+) (–)
5 Agricultural-artificial (+) (–) (+)
6 Diversified (–) or (0) (–) or (0) (–) or (0)
(+) SD > 0.5; (0) +0.5 SD -0.5; (–) SD < -0.5
259Typology of physical-geographical regions in Poland in line with land-cover structure…
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
separately for the 1990-2000 and 2000-2006
time intervals (Tab. 2).
Table 2. The methodology for mesoregion classifica-
tion in Poland in connection with the character of the
main land-cover changes in the years 1990-2000 and
Types of change
Changes in the shares
of land-cover types measured
in SD
forests and
A urbanization (+) (–) or (0)
B afforestation (–) or (0) (+)
C afforestation-
(+) (+)
D stable (–) or (0) (–) or (0)
(+) SD > 0.5; (0) +0.5 SD -0.5; (–) SD < -0.5
The following types of trend for changes in land
cover in mesoregions were observed:
A) Urbanisation – a significant increase in artifi-
cial surfaces with insignificant changes where
the share of forest is concerned.
B) Afforestation – a significant increase in affor-
ested areas with insignificant changes in the
share of artificial surfaces.
C) Afforestation-urbanization – a parallel signifi-
cant increase in the share of forests and artifi-
cial surfaces.
D) Stable – a lack of significant changes in the
share of either forests or artificial surfaces.
Individual mesoregions were assigned to the
different types in respect of each of the periods
under analysis, this making it possible to illustrate
the regional distribution of land-cover changes in
Poland, with account being taken of either stability
or changes in trends.
The land-cover structure in 2006 and its
spatial diversity
Agricultural land occupies by far the largest area
in Poland (Tab. 3). 70% of it is arable, while the
rest consists of pastures, as well as heterogene-
ous agricultural areas. A considerable part of the
country also falls within the category of forests
and semi-natural areas, the latter almost in their
entirety comprising forests and types of cover con-
nected with them (transitional woodland-scrub),
while semi-natural areas occur at most marginally.
80% of artificial surfaces are occupied by urban
fabric, while 8.5% are occupied by industrial and
commercial units. Bodies of water constitute 70%
of water areas, while over 90% of wetlands consist
of inland marshes.
Table 3. Poland’s land-cover structure in 2006.
Land-cover type Area
[thous. ha]
Artificial surfaces 1,256 4.0
Agricultural areas 19,701 62.5
Forests and semi-natural areas 9,867 31.3
Wetlands 109 0.3
Bodies of water 591 1.9
Total 31,524 10 0.0
Source: based on CLC 2006.
Distinctly-agricultural mesoregions are the
most numerous, together accounting for a 37%
share of the area of Poland. There are also a large
number of mesoregions – some 30% of the total,
accounting for 35% of Poland overall – which lack
any distinctive share of any cover type. Less than
25% of Poland’s mesoregions (accounting for 20%
of Poland) are to be defined as distinctly forest-
ed, while approximately 10% (6% of Poland) falls
within the category of artificial surfaces. The rest
of the mesoregions combine the agricultural and
artificial or forested and artificial types (Tab. 4).
Table 4. Number and area of mesoregions in Poland
in terms of characteristic land cover in 2006.
Type Name of type Number of
Area of
[thous. ha]
1 distinctly artificial 29 1,838
2 distinctly forested 73 6,348
3 distinctly agricultural 100 11,670
4 forests-artificial 6 89
5 agricultural-artificial 12 650
6 diversified 96 10,928
Total 316 31,524
Source: based on CLC 2006.
The distinctly agricultural type is represented
by mesoregions of Central Poland falling within
260 Damian Łowicki • Andrzej Mizgajski
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
the macroregions of the Northern Lowland and
Central Masovian Lowland, the Chełmno-Dobrzyń
Lakeland and the eastern part of the Wielkopolska
Lakeland (Fig. 1). For example, the share of agricul-
tural land on the Inowrocław Plain and Kutno Plain
reaches 90%.
Mesoregions in which no dominance of any
types of land cover is to be observed are present in
large numbers all over Poland. Lowest numbers are
to be found in the central part of the country: in the
South Pomeranian and Wielkopolska Lakelands, as
well as in the Southern Wielkopolska Lowland and
the Central and North Masovian Lowland, which
are distinctly dominated by agricultural areas.
Mountainous mesoregions are markedly forest-
ed areas, especially the Tatra Mountains, in which
forest cover reaches 93%. The distinctly forested
type is also represented by mesoregions of the
Southern Baltic and Eastern Baltic Lakelands, 17 in
number. Their average level of forest cover is 62%,
while the share of artificial surfaces is just over 1%.
The largest mesoregions with a considerable
above-average share of artificial surfaces are
associated with large agglomerations: the Tri-
City agglomeration comprising Gdańsk, Gdynia
and Sopot; Warsaw and other cities in the Mid
Vistula Valley; and the Upper Silesian Conur-
bation as well as the Łódź agglomeration. The
Kashubia Coast forms the most urbanized region
in Poland. The urban areas of Gdańsk, Gdynia
and Sopot together with adjacent areas occupy
over 31% of the mesoregion’s surface area, while
agricultural land accounts for just 45% and for-
ests for 16%.
Changes in the land cover
The greatest changes in land cover in the years
1990-2000 and in the years 2000-2006 affected
forests and artificial surfaces. Increases in the
area of forests account for 37% of all changes
in land cover during the first period and for 44%
of changes in the second. Over each of the time
intervals, the area covered by forest increased
by c. 20,000 ha. Changes of similar magnitude
affected the artificial surfaces. As Table 5 shows,
80% of the forests and artificial surfaces appear-
ing did so at the expense of agricultural areas.
Figure 1. Classification of Poland’s mesoregions by dominant forms of land cover in 2006. Markings as in Table 1.
261Typology of physical-geographical regions in Poland in line with land-cover structure…
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
Forests are the second cover type which sup-
ported the increase in artificial surfaces, mostly
urban fabric, industrial areas and mine sites.
At the same time, the reverse process also occurred
as the reclamation of post-mine sites by means
of afforestation took place in the areas of Konin
and Turek, Bełchatów, Sosnowiec, Tarnobrzeg and
Bogatynia. Another situation characterized the
Biebrza Valley and Wetlands, wherein 3,000 ha of
wetlands became overgrown as a result of succes-
sion. Another type of change involved the forma-
tion of small bodies of water, created mostly at the
expense of meadows (e.g. in the Middle Noteć Val-
ley) and at former mineral extraction sites (e.g. in
the vicinity of Kazimierz Biskupi and the area
around Ropa in the Beskid Niski range).
A comparative analysis of trends where chang-
es in land cover in the 1990-2000 and 2000-2006
periods are concerned allows for the distinguish-
ing of four types of mesoregion (Tab. 6). The stable
type of land cover occurs the most frequently here,
no significant changes being revealed as regards
land cover when set against the national average.
The afforestation type offers the second most
numerous characterization of type of mesoregion,
and this is also true as regards total surface areas,
equating to 12 and 17% of Poland (in the periods
1990-2000 and 2000-2006 respectively). Mesore-
gions in which the share of artificial surfaces and
forest has increased markedly are the least numer-
ous. A comparison of the number of mesoregions
with specific trends for development characteristic
of both time intervals makes it possible to note
a significant increase in the number and surface
area of mesoregions belonging to the ’urbaniza-
tion’ and ’afforestation-urbanization’ types. In the
Table 5. Matrix of land-cover changes in hectares in the years 1999-2000 (a) and 2000-2006 (b).
Changed to
Changed from
and semi-natural
Wetlands Bodies
of water
Artificial surfaces a
Agricultural areas a
37,720 .9
Forests and
semi-natural areas
Wetlands a
Bodies of water a
Area increase a
Total: 55,157.2
Source: based on CLC 1990, 2000 and 2006.
Table 6. Classification of Poland’s mesoregions in line with the dominant changes in land-cover in the years
1990-2000 and 2000-2006.
Types of change
1990-2000 2000-2006
of mesoregions
area of mesoregions
[thous. ha]
of mesoregions
area of mesoregions
[thous. ha]
A urbanization 19 1,544 39 4,683
B afforestation 39 3,782 39 5,261
C afforestation-urbanization 2 77 6 692
D stable 256 26,063 232 20,830
Total 316 31,466 316 31,466
Source: based on CLC 1990, 2000 and 2006.
262 Damian Łowicki • Andrzej Mizgajski
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
first case, the number doubled and the surface
area tripled, while in the second, the number dou-
bled and the surface area increased ninefold.
An a nal ysis o f the trends to ch ange s in t he sha re
of forest and artificial surfaces in mesoregions
revealed that in 70% of spatial units, no change
in the trends had occurred within the time inter-
vals under analysis (Fig. 2). No distinct reversals of
a developmental trend were to be observed in any
of the mesoregions over the second time interval as
compared with the first. Rather, observed changes
mostly entailed reinforcement of an existing trend
in the second period, while the first was character-
ized by stability of cover-type proportions (in 20%
of mesoregions). In 10% of the units, the trend was
suppressed and land-cover proportions in the sec-
ond period become stable. In three cases, changes
of trend from the urbanization or forest type to the
urbanization-forest type were observed.
The Gniezno Lakeland is a mesoregion display-
ing a consistent trend as regards an increased
share of artificial surfaces (type A),
the Konin Industrial District and the Poznań
agglomeration. A similar consistent trend is to
be observed for the Szczerców Basin, in which
the mineral extraction sites and power industry
district of Bełchatów is situated. A considerable
increase in artificial surfaces in both periods also
occurred in the Warsaw Basin and the Warsaw
Lowland, this reflecting the spatial development
of the metropolitan area of Polands capital. It is
characteristic that a transfer from stable cover
structure in the first period to an increase in the
share of artificial surfaces in the second period
took place in mesoregions situated near units in
which the increase in artificial surfaces was ongo-
ing. In the years 2000-2006, a significant increase
in artificial surfaces occurred in 29 mesoregions,
which, as compared with the national average in
the years 1990-2000, did not manifest a distinct
developmental trend (transfer from type D to
type A). These are the Łowicz-Błonie Lowland, the
Mid Vistula Valley within which a part of Warsaw
is located, as well as the Poznań Lakeland and the
Września Lowland, where the largest part of the
Poznań agglomeration is situated. It was in the
Figure 2. Trends for land-cover changes in Poland’s mesoregions in the periods 1990-2000 and 2000-2006.
Description as in Table 6.
263Typology of physical-geographical regions in Poland in line with land-cover structure…
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
two latter units that the rate of increase in artifi-
cial surfaces was greatest, increasing more than
threefold in the years 2000-2006, as compared
to the years 1990-2000. The reasons for such an
intensified dynamic can be seen, not only in the
spatial development of the Poznań agglomeration,
but also in motorway construction taking place
in the Nowy Tomyśl, Środa Wielkopolska and
Września districts. These are also mesoregions
(7 units) within which a reverse phenomenon was
observed, i.e. a slowdown in the increase in artifi-
cial surfaces as compared with the average index
(transfer from type A to type D). This pertains to:
The Niemodlin Lowland with Opole, the Jelenia
Góra Basin, the Reda-Łeba Ice-marginal Valley
with Lębork and Wejherowo, the Freienwald Basin
with Kostrzyn on the Oder River, the Zasiecka
Basin, Chełm and the Cholerzyn Depression.
The issue of political changes and their impact on
land use in CEE (Central & Eastern Europe) has
been well documented. Some works concern rea-
sons for these processes and differences between
countries (Jaksch et al. 1996; Strong et al. 1996;
Goetz et al. 2001; Stöber 2003). Several stud-
ies also point to the nature of the various urban
agglomerations (e.g. Tasan 1999; Hamilton et al.
2005; Turok & Mykhnenko 2007) and intra-region-
al distinctiveness (Mizgajski 2003). The transi-
tion to the market economy, and particularly the
unification of law resulting from EU membership
reduced peculiarities between countries. Simulta-
neously a diversification of regional development
in countries took place.
The study shows changes at the regional level
in Poland, in which the volume of annual land-cov-
er changes has increased. During the years 1990-
2000, the average area affected by changes was
258.7 km2/year, while in the period 2000-2006
it was 312 km2/year. This means that, in the last
period, about 0.1% of the country has been chang-
ing its cover each year. This result indicates that
the scale of more far-reaching local changes was
relatively limited. On the other hand, Ciołkosz and
Poławski (2006) pointed to limitations of the CLC
project resulting from the size of the smallest divi-
sion (25 ha), which precludes the registration of
small-area changes.
The analysis conducted allows for comparisons
as regards the changes characterizing different
mesoregions within Poland. After 2000, regional
differences in areas of land-cover changes were
less-marked, the standard deviation for all chang-
es reducing almost threefold in the second period.
This may indicate a generally diminishing role for
regional factors where the differentiation of land
cover is concerned.
The research exposed urbanization and affor-
estation as the main processes impacting upon
land-cover change. There was a significant positive
correlation between the portion of built-up areas
or forests in mesoregions and the magnitude of
changes affec ting them in both the first and second
periods. Mesoregions with large shares of built-up
areas or forests reported above-standard growth.
This means that, on a regional scale, differences
in LC structure are becoming bigger, a phenom-
enon that has also been noted for units of territo-
rial administration in Poland (Łowicki 2008b; Solon
2011). Those changes may be set against opinions
as to the simplification of landscape structure (Lip-
sky 1995; Skanes & Bunce 1997).
The most spectacular changes are associated
with urbanization. In the period 1990-2006, the
so-called artificial areas in Poland increased by
about 261 km2. While the average for the 1990s
was 15 km2/year, post-2000 the rate was yet high-
er, at 19 km2/year on average. It was the urban-
ized areas in the vicinity of Poznań and in the
regions of the Gniezno and Poznań Lakelands that
extended most, though high rates of change were
also observed in the mesoregions including the
agglomerations of Warsaw, Wrocław and Gdańsk.
It is widely known that forest cover in Poland has
been on the increase in the entire period since
World War II, in this way passing the 30% mark
in 2010. However, this remains a share below the
European average, and one that is lower than in
any of Poland’s neighbor countries except Ukraine
(CSO 2012). Furthermore, there are many mesore-
gions, in the central part of Poland in particular,
in which the share accounted for by forests does
not exceed 10%. Equally, the trend towards an
increase in the area of forest is becoming more
marked, rather than less, and the role of driving
areas is hear played by mesoregions in the north-
ern and eastern parts of the country.
Both urbanization and afforestation takes
place at the expense of agricultural land area.
While more than half of Polish territory continues
to be occupied by arable land, the transformation
did activate a steady and widespread reduction in
264 Damian Łowicki • Andrzej Mizgajski
Geographia Polonica 2013, 86, 3, pp. 255-266
areas accounted for by this form of use. In urban
regions, agricultural areas are increasingly seen
as potential areas for development, rather than
as sites for agricultural production. A reduction
in areas of arable land over the last two decades
has also been typical for other CEECs and north-
ern European countries in which an agricultural
landscape dominates (Mander & Jongman 1998;
Peterson & Aunap 1998).
In the case of afforestation, we are dealing with
a decrease in the area of poor soils being used agri-
culturally, these being released from agricultural
production specifically with tree planting in mine.
In contrast, the urbanization process is tending to
eliminate cultivated soils irrespective of quality, it
being far from unusual for areas of the best soils to
be lost. This decrease in the area of potentially the
most productive soils is a consequence of Poland’s
inefficient spatial planning system. As of 2009,
only 25% of the country was covered by local spa-
tial management plans (GUS 2013). In remaining
areas, changes in land use have been of a rather
ad hoc and spontaneous nature.
Where land-cover changes in the obser ved peri-
ods are concerned, it is urbanization that emerges
as the most significant process differentiating
the mesoregions. There is a need for continued
observation of this process, since multifunctional
urbanized landscapes are changing very fast
(Antrop 2004). Despite the decline in the diversity
of changes affecting the mesoregions after 2000,
the percentage of mesoregions with a clear trend
towards urbanization has doubled. These results
indicate that the urbanization processes ongo-
ing in major metropolitan areas are reflected at
regional level. The opposite trend for a reduction
in the urbanized area is to be observed in just
a few cases. There is a different status in the case
of forests, with the number of mesoregions mani-
festing progressing afforestation being similar to
the number showing the opposite trend.
The study examined the share of the main types
of land cover, e.g. agricultural, forest or artificial
areas in natural units in Poland, as these relate
to the national average. The differences between
mesoregions observed in this regard offer only an
incomplete reflection of the general structure to
land cover in Poland, because the mesoregions
have been created on the basis of morphogenetic
criteria only to some degree coinciding with the
land-cover pattern.
In most regional units the proportions of the
basic land-cover types are close to average. Such
’normal’ regions are spread throughout Poland.
The vast majority of regions had a stable spa-
tial structure over both of the time intervals con-
sidered, while just around 30% of units display
clear changes for any of the land-cover types.
The research findings presented here may be
of use as geographical and landscape/ecologi-
cal regional studies are assessed for their repre-
sentativeness. They may also serve the purposes
of comparative research relevant to land use and
landscape structure. Analysis of the type employed
here could gain further use in spatial policy seek-
ing to assess, and as necessary control, the direc-
tions development processes are taking, as well as
the efficiency of instruments being applied.
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... The natural (physical and geographical) units which allow presenting in an accurate and fair manner this diversity in the scale of the whole country are mesoregions. The most detailed research on the changeability of land use in this context based on CLC data for the periods 1990-2000 and 2000-2006, along with preparation of typology of the mesoregions, was carried out by D. Łowicki and A. Mizgajski [50]. The authors referred to the hierarchical system of physio-geographical regionalization of Poland [51], however the new typology took into account the effects of the anthropogenic pressure on the environment. ...
... In parallel to the decrease of farmland an increase of impervious surface covers could be observed. The increase also referred to the area of meadows and grazing lands [50]. ...
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The main goal of the article is the evaluation of usefulness of CORINE Land Cover (CLC) data—acquired predominantly by visual interpretation of Landsat satellite imagery—for monitoring of changes in settlement development and land use. This has been done by comparison of occurrence of buildings (and address points) in Poland with delimitations of land use belonging to particular classes in the CLC 2018 dataset. Large discrepancies have been identified, which reach on average approx. 34% of addresses and 35% of buildings located outside class 1 (artificial surfaces), mainly on terrains of class 2 (agricultural areas). Among single-family buildings it was 37% and among new addresses (forecasted or “under construction” buildings)—as much as 50%. This puts a question mark over the possibility of using CLC data with a resolution of 25 ha for monitoring of spatial planning and development in Poland for purposes of the diagnosis and assessment of the scale of dispersion of built-up areas. It is worth carrying out similar analyses in other countries, known for the deconcentration processes and a relatively large share of dispersed settlement, e.g., other CEE countries, Spain, Portugal, Italy.
... The natural (physical and geographical) units which allow to present in an accurate and fair manner this diversity in the scale of the whole country are mesoregions. The most detailed research on the changeability of land use in this context based on CORINE Land Cover data for the periods 1990-2000 and 2000-2006, along with preparation of typology of the mesoregions, was carried out by D. Łowicki and A. Mizgajski [32]. The authors referred to the hierarchical system of physio-geographical regionalization of Poland [33], however the new typology took into account the effects of the anthropogenic pressure on the environment. ...
... The number of large farms increased at the expense of smaller farms. The increase also referred to the area of meadows and grazing lands [32]. ...
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The article describes the results of comparison of occurence of buildings (and address points) in Poland with delimitations of land use belonging to particular classes in the CORINE Land Cover (CLC) 2018 dataset. Large discrepancies have been identified, which reach on average approx. 34% of addresses and 35% of buildings located outside class 1 (artificial surfaces), mainly on terrains of class 2 (agricultural areas). Among single-family buildings it was 37% and among new addresses (forecasted or 'under construction' buildings)-as much as 50%. This puts a question mark over the possibility of using CLC data with resolution of 25 ha for monitoring of spatial planning and development in Poland for purposes of the diagnosis and assessment of the scale of dispersion of built-up areas. It is worth carrying out similar analyses in other countries, known for the deconcentration processes and a relatively large share of dispersed settlement e.g. other CEE countries, Spain,
... Jansen and Gregorio 2002, Feranec et al. 2010, Cole et al. 2018; Kocur-Bera and Pszenny 2020). In Poland, LULC analysis based on CLC data was carried out by Mierzwiak and Calka (2019), Borowska-Stefańska et al. (2018), Pokonieczny (2018), Pabjanek and Szumacher (2017) and Łowicki and Mizgajski (2013). CLC datasets were derived from Copernicus Land Monitoring services (CLMS 2022). ...
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The study aims at land cover prediction based on cellular automata and artificial neural network (CA-ANN) method implemented in the Methods Of Land Use Change Evaluation (MOLUSCE) tool. The Tricity region and the neighbouring counties of Gdański and Kartuzy were taken as the research areas, and coordination of information on the environment (CORINE Land Cover, CLC, CLMS 2022) data for 2006, 2012 and 2018 were used to analyse, simulate and predict land cover for 2024, the next reference year of the CORINE inventory. The results revealed an increase in artificial surfaces, with the highest value during the period 2006–2012 (86.56 km ² ). In total, during the period 2006–2018, the growth in urbanised area amounted to 95.37 km ² . The 2024 prediction showed that artificial surfaces increased by 9.19 km ² , resulting in a decline in agricultural land.
... states (Łowicki, 2008;Łowicki and Mizgajski, 2013). The result is that farmland was replaced 293 ...
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... The thesis of this interpretation is as follows: a precisely defined type of morphopedotop presents equal micro-climate and a soil ecological condition on whatever sites it occurs in the given territory. Therefore, if we obtain a measured dataset on the microclimate and soil ecological condition on a site with a detailed defined morpho-pedotop type, the same micro-climatic and soil ecological conditions will occur on all sites with this certain type of morpho-pedotop wherever it occurs in the entire area [28][29][30]. In addition, it is possible to define relative differences in other morpho-pedotops compared to measured ones. ...
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... For Slovakia, Pazúr and Bolliger [42] noted a decrease in agricultural areas and an increase in urbanised areas from 1980 to 2012 using national level CLC data, among other things. In their analyses of 1990 to 2006 CLC data for Poland, Łowicki and Mizgajski [77] noted an increase in forest and urbanised areas at the expense of agricultural areas. Moreover, Nalej [78] identified the largest LUC for Poland from 2000 to 2006 in the conversion of agricultural land into urbanised areas, mainly in the outskirts of metropolises. ...
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Land-use and cover change (LUCC) impacts global environmental changes. Therefore, it is crucial to obtain cross-national level LUCC data that represents past and actual LUCC. As urban areas exhibit the most significant dynamics of the changes, accompanied by such processes as urban sprawl, it seems desirable to take into account LUCC information from such areas to acquire national level information. The paper analyses land-use changes (LUCs) in urban areas in Czechia, Poland, and Slovakia. The analysis is based on functional urban area (FUA) data from the European Urban Atlas project for 2006 and 2012. The area of urbanised land grew at the expense of agricultural areas, semi-natural areas, and wetlands over the investigated period in all three countries. The authors determined LUC direction models in urban areas based on the identified land-use change. The proposed LUC direction models for the investigated period and area should offer national level LUC data for such purposes as modelling of future changes or can be the point of reference for planning analyses. The paper proposes the following models: mean model, median model, weighted mean model where the weight is the urbanised to vegetated area ratio, and weighted mean model where the weight is the share of urbanised areas. According to the proposed LUC models, areas considered as urbanised grow in FUAs on average in six years by 5.5900‰ in Czechia, 7.5936‰ in Poland, and 4.0769‰ in Slovakia. Additionally, the change models facilitated determination of a LUC dynamics ratio in each country. It reached the highest values in Poland and the lowest in Slovakia.
... Research of land cover changes in Poland has become more popular and it has already been widely discussed in literature (e.g., [36][37][38][39]). Borowska-Stefańska ...
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The main goal of the paper is to verify the impact of the absorption of European Union (EU) grants on land cover changes in Polish municipalities in the years 2012-2018. The selection of the research area was justified by the fact that Poland is the largest and significantly spatially differentiated transition economy in Central-Eastern Europe, recognised as a substantial beneficiary of EU accession in 2004. The time range of analysis was set as the result of a comparison of data availability in Corine Land Cover (CLC) and Statistics Poland. The CLC dataset referring to land cover and land use changes between 2012 and 2018 was used. The focus on modifications taking place within one of the main land cover groups at level 3 of detail was applied in this research. These changes were analysed as percentages referring to the area of the municipality and to the total area of changes in the investigated period. Two categories of EU grants were considered: total and infrastructural (granted under EU Operational Programme "Infrastructure and Environment"). Moreover, some control economic, social, demographic, institutional, infrastructural, and environmental variables were applied to better explain land cover changes. Moran's local statistic was employed to detect spatial hot-spots of EU grants absorption, as well as hot-spots of land cover changes. Then, a collection of various variables related to determinants of land cover changes was set. Economic factors, including EU grants absorption, as well as factors related to accessibility, agrarian structure, demography, environment, and spatial planning were investigated. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was employed to convert the set of all considered variables into a set of few uncorrelated predictors. Finally, Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) was applied to describe the spatially varied impact of investigated determinants, including EU grants, represented by estimated principal components on land cover changes.
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The development of urbanisation is linked to qualitative and quantitative changes in the landscape and its components aimed at strengthening economic, administrative and cultural-social functions, which are associated with ever-increasing pressures on ecosystems and their individual components. These pressures are subject to various factors—socio-economic, political, environ-mental, etc. In this paper, we present an evaluation of the environmental impacts of the development of urbanisation in Slovakia. Independent Slovakia belongs to the young European states. The communist period lasted from 1948 to 1989. The character of landscape, the quality of the environment and also the degree of anthropisation of territory were dependent on a centrally managed economy. Urbanisation changes began to manifest themselves rapidly after 2000, when the economy was transformed and Slovakia was preparing to join the European Union (Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004). The transformation from central planning into a market economy was the basis of the changes, which was conditioned following strong pressure of investors on the landscape, the construction of technological parks, shopping and logistics centres and transport infrastructure and the construction of residential complexes. According to the European Environment Agency’s study on urban sprawl between the mid-1950s and the end of the 1990s, industry, commercial and transport services have grown at a significant rate and the residential areas at a moderate rate in Slovakia. On the other hand, Slovakia has areas where urbanisation has the opposite trend. Rural settlements are abandoned as well as large areas of agricultural land. The character of land use has fundamentally changed over the past 20 years. These changes not only have a spatial dimension but are associated with the emergence of various environmental problems. The paper deals with the impacts of anthropisation and industrialisation of Slovakia after 2000. The anthropisation process in Slovakia was determined through data processed in GIS and also through the statistical data representing land use. Based on the ecological significance of land use elements, the degree of anthropisation in Slovakiawas calculated.
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Mining belongs to the types of human activity that have a significant impact on the environment, and especially on the landscape. The main objective of this study is a quantitative diagnosis of the dynamics of land use changes and landscape pattern modification in areas shaped under the influence of processes related to the open pit exploitation of lignite. The study was carried out in the Adamów-Koźmin Lignite Basin, which is a model example of an area affected by strong anthropogenic pressure. An assessment of changes was carried out using a set of maps depicting land use in the period preceding the exploitation of lignite (the year 1940) and after over 60 years of the mining activity in this area (as of 2011). The source materials for mapping for the first period were archival maps and for the second period, an orthophotomap. The heads-up digitising method was used to determine 7 types of land-cover classes according to the definitions of Corine Land Cover. Ten landscape metrics for five categories of landscape features (surface, shape, neighbourhood, edge, spatial distribution and diversity) were used in the landscape pattern analysis. The results do not confirm the hypothesis of a significant landscape simplification after reclamation. The shape of patches in the landscape was more complex and the number of land-use types was higher, which combined with their spatial arrangement, caused the landscape pattern to be more diversified in the year 2011.
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The paper discusses regional-scale landscape changes during Poland's transformation of the 1990s. A formal analysis of changes in the share of each land-registration category in administrative units was made, in order that several types of landscape might be compared and changes in dynamics studied. The main purpose of the work described here has in turn been the identification of those land-use categories (landscape elements) exerting the greatest impact on the transformation of Wielkopolska's cultural landscape during the political, economic and social changes of the years 1989-2000. As the analysis was made for groups of gminas of differing degrees of urbanization (urban, urban-rural or rural gminas), as well as for several sub-regions of the voivodship, it was possible to categorise gminas in Wielkopolska in relation to the intensity of spatial changes in structure that they have presented. The spatial distribution analysis for changes in the Landscape Transformation Ratio attest to the fact that Wielkopolska voivodship is very much polarized where land-use changes are concerned. While the northern and eastern parts show extensiveness of land use reflecting the afforestation of the poorest soils (in the Piła region) and reclamation of post-mining areas (in the Konin-Turek region), Poznań and adjacent gminas are characterised by high-intensity land use in the wake of an expansion of areas designated for settlement and transport. Studies based on correlations between the main land-use categories show that the most frequent occurrence, observed in almost 80% of gminas, is a replacing of agricultural land by areas of settlement (correlation at -0.81). Other ascertained processes include transformations of miscellaneous areas into areas under water (correlation at -0.49), and of agricultural land into transport land (correlation at -0.41). A comparison of land-flow schemes between urban, urban-rural and rural gminas sustains the idea that relations among land-use categories become simplified in the following way: from rural gminas through urban-rural to urban ones. In urban gminas (other than Konin, in which reclamation processes dominate), a single process that definitely prevails is the growth of settlement areas at the expense of agricultural ones. In urban-rural gminas, and particularly rural ones, agricultural land is the source, not only for settlement areas, but also for forest, mining, miscellaneous and transport uses. In rural gminas, the percentage of miscellaneous areas has been in notable decline, whereas the percentage of the area under wasteland, water or forest is increasing. The study of multiple regressions demonstrated that the variability of settlement areas and wastelands is the factor determining 84% of the variability to the Wielkopolska landscape. An increase in areas under settlement is the dominant process in the three sub-regions. Against this background, the changes in areas of wasteland are processes of much lesser significance that do not appear dominant in any sub-region. An analysis of regression models in each type of gmina reveals differences between the impact of changes in area under agriculture or settlement and the LTR. In towns, almost all the land being designated for development was formerly areas agricultural, such that the weights of the shrinkage of agricultural land and expansion of settlement areas in landscape transformation are equal. In urban-rural gminas and in rural ones, the weight of settlement area changes is greater than that of changes in the area of agricultural land, as land designated for development in these gmina categories comes not only from formerly agricultural areas, but also from other extensive-use areas, e.g. forests or wastelands. Moreover, in urban-rural and rural gminas, land is transferred between agricultural and other extensive-use categories, ensuring that not every contraction in agricultural areas can be associated with an intensification of land use.
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Based on analysis of relative changes in the share of forest, arable land, grassland and including population changes in the years 1995-2009, this paper presents typological classification of municipalities based on key processes shaping the spatial structure of landscape. Six key municipality types have been defined. Municipalities representing each type are not equally distributed around the country, but grouped in clusters of regional nature. The analysis indicates significant differences between eastern and western regions of Poland, where differences in dominant processes and frequency of each type of municipality may only partially reduce the differences in the spatial structure of landscape in both parts of the country. Further, the paper discusses ecological and landscape related effects of changes observed in the years 1995-2009 with special focus on impact on the biodiversity on various levels of biosphere.
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The most popular quantitative measure of landscape is land use. The most frequent data sources of land use are satellite images, aerial photographs and maps. Another source of the data can also be land cadaster. The advantages of research based on data from land registers are their relatively good accessibility, nationwide coverage and updates at equal yearly intervals, and the direct possibility to combine the data with statistics published for administrative units. The author of this paper used the above resources to analyse land use changes in the region of Wielkopolska (Poland) in the period of system transformation (1989–2005). The analysis was performed using a synthetic measure of the landscape change, being a quotient of the share of land where hardened ground are dominant and land where biologically active areas prevail. The analysis showed that although the rate of land use changes decreased after 1989, it was marked with spatial irregularity and the differences became greater over time. The changes depend on environmental conditions to a very small extent. For the most part it was the socio-economic factors that caused land use changes, primarily the economic activity of residents. Economically underdeveloped regions were intensively afforested, nevertheless environmental conditions are favourable to technical development. Therefore underdeveloped areas should be stimulated, particularly in the scope of education and entrepreneurship. Such stimulating actions should be emphasised in regional programming documents, especially in the province development strategy.
We have worked on the development of cultural landscapes in the Vráž u Písku cadastre which is situated in the South Bohemia. Cadastre is interesting because there is a castle area with a park landscape, on which we placed the main emphasis. The park and castle are currently used as a spa area for guests with mobility disabilities. We concentrated on archival collection of written and visual data, which were then put into the context of land use. Data that we have collected went through the digitization in three time series (Stable Cadastre - 1942, 50 years of the 20th century and the present day). Thus we found out where there were landscape changes and where the landscape is stable. Based on these results, we evaluate existing hiking trails and proposed new walking trail in the park.
Two databases have been elaborated by the Institute of Geodesy and Cartography as results of CORINE Land Cover 90 and CORINE Land Cover 2000 projects. They contain data concerning land cover in Poland in 1990 and 2000. Comparison of these two databases has revealed insignificant differences as regards land-cover changes in the last decade of the 20th century. In observing the development of the Polish economy, it is possible to anticipate more major changes in land use/land cover. To determine whether land use in Poland is stable or changeable, but over a much longer period of time, the CORINE Land Cover 2000 database has been compared with the General Map of Land Use in Poland at the scale 1:1000 000, elaborated by F. Uhorczak. Topographic maps at the scale 1:100 000 elaborated before World War II were the source materials upon which the General Map of Land Use in Poland at a scale 1:1000 000 was compiled. This has been converted to digital form with a view to contents being compared with the CORINE Land Cover 2000 database aggregated to 8 land use/cover forms. There is a time lag of about seventy years between the elaboration of the topographic maps and the CORINE Land Cover 2000 database, and for that reason more major land use/cover change should be observed. A comparison of the General Map of Land Use in Poland at the scale 1:1000 000 with the aggregated CORINE Land Cover 2000 database has revealed considerable changes in land use/land cover over the period of seventy years. These account for more than 9% of the total area of the country. The greatest changes occurring concerned arable areas, meadows and pastures. These land use/cover forms have been converted into forests, settlements and industrial areas.
The study was based on the research completed by the authors. The research for the study was based on the use of a relatively broad selection of cartographic materials as well as scientific literature. The characteristics of 17 kinds1 of natural landscapes and 31 variations of landscape of the Chełmno-Dobrzyń Lakeland, Urszulewo Plain and the neighbouring Vistula and Drweca Valleys were described. The origins of the terrains provided the main criteria used for identifying the kinds of landscapes. A relationship to the appropriate sort of natural landscapes (glacial, glacioaquatic, aeolian, depression, river and channel valley), and the morphology and hypsometry of the land reliefs (flat plains, undulated plains, hills, ridges, high slopes) determined the terrain origin. When identifying the different variations of natural landscape, the following were of major importance: the land relief (defined as the kinds of landscape), and lithology of the surface deposits, and land use (forests, arable land, meadows and pastures). Urban areas and large excavations were described separately. Similar distinctions of kinds and variations of landscape used by other authors, are noted elsewhere.
Land use and landscape structure changes were investigated using the example of an agricultural landscape in central Bohemia. Attention was paid particularly to the great changes which occurred during the 40 years of socialist collectivism. The analysis of landscape development shows that statistics about land use can give only general information about landscape macrostructure and cannot provide a perfect idea of the actual spatial composition of landscape elements. Landscape microstructure expressed in spatial arrangements, shape, size, quality and connectivity of patches, lines and small interactive elements plays the main role in landscape dynamics and is the principal influence in landscape stability.
The aim of this paper is to show how and in what sense the post-socialist transformation process has influenced the urban spatial structure of Warsaw with the help of empirical evidence dealing with housing. Therefore, the main focus of the study is the transformation of the housing market in the 1990s under social and economic restructuring process. The article comprises two parts: the first part involves the geographical development of the urban spatial structure within the context of housing market changes. In order to explain today's transformation, the system of socialist time is also discussed. In the second part emphasis is placed on the evidence of the transformation in urban space, dealing with new tendencies and challenging mechanisms in the housing market. The last period of transformation is also investigated in terms of changes in the urban space since housing is seen as an important factor of urban transformation. Hence, following the brief outline of historical development of the urban space housing market changes including the privatization of urban land is going to be the concern of the paper. The problems of the transformation and practical implementation of the privatization process are also discussed.
To analyse human influences on rural landscapes in present-day central and northern Europe and also to investigate sustainable landscape development concepts, an IALE (International Association for Landscape Ecology) regional Conference on `Perspectives of Rural Landscapes in Europe' was held in Pärnu, Estonia on 20–27 June 1996. The conference was undertaken specifically to exchange information between planners, managers, decision makers and scientists in the region. In the last few years, rural landscapes in Europe have changed significantly. Due to restructuring of agriculture in the European Union (EU) countries and radical socio-economic changes in eastern and central Europe, landscape change will continue. This stimulates interest for landscape ecologists to study the processes connected with such rapid development and to analyse its socio-economic and ecological consequences. Different conference findings that resulted from six keynote speeches, 33 oral presentations, 21 posters and organised excursions (1-day conference excursion and 4-day post-conference excursion) are presented here. Thirteen papers published as part of this special issue of Landscape and Urban Planning, and summarised here, deal with general and methodological principles of the analysis of land use changes and related landscape evaluation, and also present case studies on land use changes from Estonia, Germany and Sweden.