The Land Use Scanner model – Applications, model development, downloads & exercises

VU University Amsterdam has a long-standing experience in integrated land use modelling.W_scenarios_midNL_550px Research is done in both a national and an international context. Applications include studies into the future of agriculture, to climate adaptation. Most of this research was carried out for and with an operational land use model that integrates urban and non-urban types of land use, the Land Use Scanner.

This integrated GIS-based land use model was developed in close co-operation with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), Geodan and the Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI). The Land Use Scanner is part of the LUMOS system and work on the model is done within the LUMOS consortium.

This website provides more information on the outline and characteristics of the model. A fully functional demonstration version of the model can be downloaded here, a wide range of exercises related to this and other land-use models is also available, while a recent set of simulation results can be downloaded here.


Model Outline

The Land Use Scanner is a GIS-based model that produces simulations of future land use, based on the integration of sector-specific inputs from dedicated models. The model is based on demand-supply interaction for land, with sectors competing for allocation within suitability and policy constraints. It uses a comparatively static approach that simulates a future state, in a limited number of time steps. Recent applications simulate land-use patterns in three subsequent time steps, whereas initial applications used only one or two.

Unlike many other land-use models the objective of the Land Use Scanner is not to forecast the 140710_figuur1_4_550pxdimension of land-use change but rather to integrate and allocate future land-use demand from different sector-specific models or experts. The next figure presents the basic structure of the Land Use Scanner model.

External regional projections of land-use change, which are usually referred to as demand or claims, are used as input for the model. These are land-use type specific and can be derived from, for example, sector-specific models of specialised institutes. The predicted land-use changes are considered as an additional demand for the different land-use types as compared with the present area in use for each land-use type.

The total of the additional demand and the present area for each land-use function is allocated to individual grid-cells based on the suitability of the cell. The definition of local suitability may incorporate a large number of spatial datasets referring to the following aspects that are discussed below: current land use, physical properties, operative policies and market forces generally expressed in distance relations to nearby land-use functions.

Model Characteristics

Some general, characteristic features of Land Use Scanner are:

Grid based The model describes for all grids in a system the relative proportions of land to be used for a number of land use types. Model specification and software allow large numbers of grids. The present model version covering the Netherlands uses 100 by 100 meter grid cells.
Integrated The model provides an integration framework for sector-specific data bases and policy proposals by confronting these inputs in a spatial-analytical context.
Exhaustive The model is exhaustive in the sense that all grids in a spatial unit (in most cases a country) are considered. All types of land use are explicitly considered; thus there are no remaining categories left untreated. The model can be formulated in such a way that transfers of wet grids (sea, lakes) into land are allowed.
Dynamic The model deals with changes in land use taking into account present land use patterns. The suitabilities of the grids for certain types of land use are not assumed constant, but may change as the result of changes in land use in the course of time. Recent applications distinguish up to three time steps in simulation.
Satellite structure The model is driven by forecasts at a national or regional level in terms of variables such as population, agricultural production, infrastructure, etc.
Policy oriented Several types of sector-specific policies have strong spatial implications. Land Use Scanner makes these implications explicit. The model helps solving questions referring to the types of grids in which major policy conflicts can be expected to emerge. It can also be used to investigate the implications of sector-specific and macro policies for human settlement and land use patterns.

The property of integration means that the Land Use Scanner can function as a tool to improve communication between analysts working in various fields of land use (for example urban functions versus agriculture versus natural land use). The model also helps to improve consistency between projections made in these fields. Thus a potential use of the Land Use Scanner is that is does not only function as a modelling tool, but also as a communication tool between analysts in various policy fields.