Land is a finite natural resource and a factor of production whose use by mankind has been determined historically by a wide range of influences. The processes of development impact on the natural and human landscape, resulting in spatial mosaics of land cover, ownership and use that have been studied for many years. Whilst some environmental scientists have argued that land use is determined by physical or climatic factors (Brouwer et al., 1991), there is a long tradition of attempts to explain patterns of land use according to economic factors. This is a tradition that includes the work of the classical scholars of geographical theory and modelling; in particular the contributions made by von Thünen (1826) on agricultural land use, by Weber (1909) on industrial location, by Christaller (1933) and Lösch (1940) on central places and settlement patterns and by Burgess (1927), Hoyt (1939), and Harris and Ullman (1945) on residential land use. There is no doubt that environmental and economic explanations continue to exert major influences on land use. The role of economic factors such as the availability of subsidies, the fixing of quotas on food production, the setting aside of land in return for monetary compensation and schemes to encourage farms to diversify and become less dependent on one activity, all combine to create a complex and often dynamic pattern of agricultural land use. Similarly, the operation of the land market combined with the imposition of planning controls results in very complex urban systems whose components show strong interdependencies (Lowry, 1964). The analysis of these structures and relationships requires the application of appropriate methods to study complex systems (Wilson, 2000).
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- A Framework for European Land Use Simulation
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