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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: January 2010

10 - The preoccupation of landscape research with land use and land cover



For most people, their initial contact with the landscape is by the observation of landform and land cover. Human-perception analysis evaluates what is observed in a holistic way and interprets simultaneously according to the available knowledge. Landscape can be approached in multiple ways (Muir 1999, Cosgrove 2003, Claval 2005) and similar concepts have subtle differences in meaning. In common language and disciplines related to policy and planning, the concepts of land use and land cover are sometimes erroneously used as synonyms, while scientific communities use clearly distinct definitions (Baulies and Szejwach 1997). An important conceptual difference also exists between landscape and land (Zonneveld 1995, Antrop 2001, 2003, Olwig 2004). Land is more associated with territory, terrain, soil, and land value, which depend on its utility. The landscape is considered as a perceivable expression of the dynamic interaction between natural processes and human activities in an area (Council of Europe 2000). Although land use and land cover are essential components in the characterization of the landscape, the concept of landscape is broader and encompasses social, economic, and symbolic aspects as well. The increasing magnitude and pace of the changes in land use and land cover have become of worldwide concern in policy-making (Fresco et al., 1996), land management (Dale et al. 2000, Pontius et al. 2004), and modeling land-use changes (Veldkamp and Lambin 2001, Agarwal et al. 2002).

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