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This work analyzes the effects of one of the most dramatic changes of entire societies that the world has ever witnessed. It explores the collapse of socialist governance and management systems on land cover and land use in various parts of Eastern Europe. As readers will discover, this involved rapid and unprecedented changes such as widespread agricultural abandonment. Changes in the countries of the former Soviet block, former Soviet Union republics, and European Russia are compared and contrasted.
Contributing authors cover topics such as the carbon cycle and the environment, effects of institutional changes on urban centers and agriculture, as well as changes in wildlife populations. The volume includes analysis of the drivers of agricultural land abandonment, forest changes in Black Sea region, an extreme drought event of 2010, impacts of fires on air quality and other land-cover/land-use issues in Eastern Europe. Satellite data used were mostly from optical sensors including night lights observations, with both coarse and medium spatial resolution.
Ultimately, this work highlights the importance of understanding socioeconomic shocks: that is, those brief periods during which societies change rapidly resulting in significant impact on land use and the environment. Thus it shows that change is often abrupt rather than gradual and thereby much harder to predict.
This book is a truly international and interdisciplinary effort, written by a team of scientists from the USA, Europe, and Russia. It will be of interest to a broad range of scientists at all levels within natural and social sciences, including those studying recent and ongoing changes in Europe. In particular, it will appeal to geographers, environmental scientists, remote sensing specialists, social scientists and agricultural scientists.




The collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s was a major natural experiment offering great insights for land use science. The changes that occurred in economies, societies and policies were swift and of high magnitude. However, changes differed among countries, allowing for cross-country comparisons. And last but not least, satellite data, especially from Landsat satellites is available from the late socialist years to today, providing an excellent data source to monitor land use before, during, and after the collapse. The major land use changes that occurred after the collapse were a) widespread agricultural abandonment, b) a general decline in forest harvesting with regional spikes due to illegal logging and forest restitution, and c) urbanization. The chapters of this book highlight the pattern, causes, and consequences of these land use changes throughout the quarter century since the collapse of socialism.
V. C. Radeloff, G. Gutman

Overview of Changes in Land Use and Land Cover in Eastern Europe

This chapter presents an analysis of land cover changes in Eastern Europe between 1990 and 2006, assessed using CORINE (Co-ORdination of INformation on the Environment) Land Cover (CLC) datasets. The plethora of potential land cover change categories were condensed into seven categories of major land use change processes: urbanization, agricultural intensification, agricultural extensification, afforestation, deforestation, construction and management of water bodies, and other changes. The amounts of each change category and their spatial distributions are summarized, and the change categories were also mapped to show the relative amounts of change (per 3 × 3 km2) between 1990 and 2000 and between 2000 and 2006. The results showed that while more afforestation than deforestation was observed in the first period, the reverse was true in the second period, when deforestation outpaced afforestation. Urbanization and suburbanization were major processes in Eastern Europe, particularly around existing major cities, and the speed of this process generally increased from the first to the second period. Both the intensification and extensification of agriculture were common during both periods, but a larger effect was observed in the first period. Overall, land use changes were highest in central Europe and the Baltic countries and lowest in southeast Europe.
Jan Feranec, Tomas Soukup, Gregory N. Taff, Premysl Stych, Ivan Bicik

Lighting Tracks Transition in Eastern Europe

Previous studies have revealed that satellite-observed lighting data from most countries are relatively well correlated with both population and gross domestic product (GDP). Eastern Europe contains the largest concentration of countries with lighting patterns that do not adhere to this trend by exhibiting higher correlations with either GDP or population. We examined a time series of DMSP nighttime light data spanning two decades and found that GDP-centric countries experienced an increase in nighttime light in the two decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Conversely, population-centric countries experienced widespread lighting losses during the first decade and urban lighting growth during the second decade. The fact that lighting was lost without the loss of infrastructure indicates that lighting is a poor proxy for mapping the extent of constructed infrastructure in some cases. These results indicate that the use of nighttime lights as an anthropogenic land cover proxy may require national or even subnational calibration in Eastern Europe.
C. D. Elvidge, F.-C. Hsu, K. E. Baugh, T. Ghosh

Land Change in the Carpathian Region Before and After Major Institutional Changes

The Carpathian region represents an ideal showcase of several land change theories and their implications for conservation because this region shares the long geo-political and socio-economic history of Eastern Europe while also being a biodiversity hotspot. With a long history of abrupt socio-economic and institutional shifts , the Carpathians exemplify how ecosystems may or may not be pushed into an alternative stable state following shocks such as the collapse of empires, world wars or the collapse of socialism. Furthermore, ecosystem changes may or may not experience time-lags in response to shocks , and over long time periods, historic land-use practices may produce land-use legacies that persist on the landscapes for decades or centuries. Here, we analyze the long-term drivers of land change and their land-use outcomes in the Carpathian region, with a particular focus on forests , agriculture and grasslands , and provide examples of how ecosystems respond to shocks using examples of alternative stable states, time-lags and land-use legacies . Understanding how and why land change patterns vary over time and space is important for balancing land-use decisions, especially in biodiverse regions with a high conservation value.
Catalina Munteanu, Volker Radeloff, Patrick Griffiths, Lubos Halada, Dominik Kaim, Jan Knorn, Jacek Kozak, Tobias Kuemmerle, Juraj Lieskovsky, Daniel Müller, Katarzyna Ostapowicz, Oleksandra Shandra, Premysl Stych

Underlying Drivers and Spatial Determinants of post-Soviet Agricultural Land Abandonment in Temperate Eastern Europe

Our goal was to understand the underlying drivers and spatial determinants of agricultural land abandonment following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent transition from state-command to market-driven economies from 1990 to 2000. We brought an example of agricultural land-use change in one agro-climatic zone stretching across Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia. Here, we provide an overview of the agricultural changes for the studied countries. We estimated the rates and patterns of agricultural land abandonment based on Landsat TM/ETM+ satellite images and linked these data with institutional changes regarding land use. Using spatially explicit logistic regressions, we assessed spatial determinants of agricultural land abandonment. The highest rates of land abandonment from 1990 to 2000 were observed in Russia (31 %), followed by Lithuania (19 %), and Belarus (13 %), and the differences in land abandonment rates reflected the contrasting strategies for transitioning toward a market economy. The spatial patterns of agricultural land abandonment across Lithuania and Russia corresponded to the land rent theory of von Thünen , as sites with low crop yields that were distant from markets had higher rates of abandonment. However, this was not the case for Belarus, where the institutional environment regarding agricultural land use differed from neighboring Lithuania and Russia.
Alexander V. Prishchepov, Daniel Müller, Matthias Baumann, Tobias Kuemmerle, Camilo Alcantara, Volker C. Radeloff

The Effects of Institutional Changes on Landscapes in Ukraine

Ukraine has a great variety of natural landscapes because the country contains parts of four landscape zones and two mountain regions. However, most of Ukraine’s landscapes have been severely altered by human activities, especially agriculture, mining, and industrial activities. These landscape changes had profound effects on ecosystem processes. For example, according to our data for the western part of Ukraine, changes in vegetated areas decreased the amount of absorbed carbon in 2000 by one thousand tons compared to the 1990 value. Thus, a larger fraction of unabsorbed carbon remained in the atmosphere, contributing to a stronger “greenhouse effect”. Similarly, the excessive use of water resources since the 19th century decreased the water and sediment inflow into the deltas of the Black Sea basin and changed their landscapes. In summary, socio-economic transformations after the breakup of the Soviet Union together with climate change effects have been widespread in Ukraine.
V. Lyalko, S. Ivanov, V. Starodubtsev, J. Palamarchuk

Forest Changes and Carbon Budgets in the Black Sea Region

The temperate forests in the Black Sea region contain some of the last remaining intact forests between southern Europe and West Asia . The collapse of the Soviet Union brought great political and institutional changes to the region that have already impacted these forests, which have experienced long land use and management histories. In this chapter, we review and synthesize research on forest changes and carbon budgets that are associated with decentralization in the Black Sea countries, focusing specifically on Bulgaria , Georgia , Romania , and Ukraine . Our analysis shows that each of these countries followed a different path in forest management, somewhat mimicking their own history of transition from centrally controlled to market-based economies . In Romania and Bulgaria, a period of economic hardship and weakened institutions resulted in large-scale forest changes, but the net effect of these and other historic forest disturbance events has allowed Bulgaria and Romania to remain a terrestrial carbon sink . Although increases in logging could result in net carbon emissions , great potential exists for carbon sequestration as a result of forest expansion on degraded and abandoned farmland, particularly in Romania. Georgia continues to struggle with establishing and enforcing forest management with a suitable mix of private and public uses to meet the growing demand, particularly for energy . To this end, the future of Georgia’s forests and its carbon implications remain uncertain and will mostly depend on its relationships with Russia and its ability to exploit its status as an energy corridor. Ukraine also continues to struggle with establishing suitable forest administration and ownership with high rates of illegal logging . However, natural forest regrowth on large tracts of abandoned farmland can sequester unprecedented amounts of carbon, and large-scale afforestation programs can greatly aid this process. These findings suggest that all these countries could play an important role in the terrestrial carbon budgets of the Black Sea region. This outcome is partly connected to the land use legacy of the Soviet Union : large areas of relatively young and regrowing forests, a result of high forest harvesting rates during the latter half of the 20th century, have tremendous carbon sequestration potential in each country that is reviewed here. At the same time, the effects of this legacy are quickly replaced with land use and forest management decisions that are made today.
M. Ozdogan, P. Olofsson, C. E. Woodcock, A. Baccini

Land Management and the Impact of the 2010 Extreme Drought Event on the Agricultural and Ecological Systems of European Russia

Extreme heat waves and droughts are common natural disasters in European Russia. The frequency and severity of heat waves have been on the rise in recent decades across Europe—a trend that is projected to continue into the 21st century. These disasters have complex social, economic, and environmental consequences reaching beyond their geographical boundaries. The extreme heat wave of 2010 had global-scale impacts on food security and regional-scale impacts on ecosystem functioning, air quality, and health. The outcomes were exacerbated by the forestry management and crop rotation practices employed in the region. The century-long economic preference for fast-growing conifers resulted in large uniform single-species even-aged pine stands, which are at least 2.5 times more likely to support fire ignition and to spread than dark-coniferous or mixed stands. Although extreme conditions result in fires that burn through all forest types indiscriminately, uniform pine stands encourage rapid fire growth and spread to uncontrollable levels. Similarly, a recent focus on more economically profitable late-spring crops resulted in the long-term depletion of soil moisture from expanded sunflower and corn cropping, which resulted in decreased soil moisture storage across cultivated lands, leaving them vulnerable to even minor droughts. The major drought of 2010 led to widespread crop yield declines and failure; however, only 2 % of the fields with late-spring crops that were cultivated in 5 of 10 years were impacted by drought, versus 63 % of comparable fields where late spring crops were planted in 8 of the 10 years.
Tatiana Loboda, Olga Krankina, Igor Savin, Eldar Kurbanov, Joanne Hall

Agricultural Fires in European Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania and Their Impact on Air Quality, 2002–2012

This chapter describes the first research to quantify air pollution emissions at a moderate to coarse scale from agricultural burning in Belarus, Lithuania, and European Russia using MODIS and Landsat-based estimates of fire, land-cover and land-use. Agricultural burning in Belarus, Lithuania, and European Russia showed a strong and consistent seasonal geographic pattern from 2002 to 2012, with the majority of fires occurring from March to June and a smaller peak in July and August. Over this 11-year period, there was a decrease in both cropland and pasture burning throughout the region. For Smolensk Oblast, a Russian administrative region with comparable agro-environmental conditions to Belarus and Lithuania, a detailed analysis of Landsat-based burned area estimations for croplands, pastures and field data collected in summer 2014 showed that the agricultural burning area can be up to 10 times larger than the 1 km MODIS active fire estimates. Using the annual MODIS and Landsat-based burned area estimations, we identified 25 carbon, particulate matter , volatile organic carbon (VOCs) , and harmful air pollutants (HAPs) emissions for all agricultural burning, including both croplands and pastures. In general, European Russia is the main source of agricultural burning emissions. Lithuania and Belarus have relatively minor contributions. Indeed, emissions from certain agricultural burning air pollutants in European Russia are so large that they are equivalent to 5 % of emissions from all sectors (industry, energy, transportation, all sources of fire) in Lithuania and likely in other neighboring Eastern European countries.
Jessica L. McCarty, Alexander Krylov, Alexander V. Prishchepov, David M. Banach, Alexandra Tyukavina, Peter Potapov, Svetlana Turubanova

Land Change in European Russia: 1982–2011

In this chapter, we use change analysis at three spatial resolutions (8 km, 500 m, and 30 m) to investigate land changes in European Russia occurring between 1982 and 2011. We first apply the nonparametric Seasonal Kendall trend test to the improved GIMMS 3g AVHRR NDVI dataset in three ten-year epochs: 1982–1991, 1991–2000, and 2000–2009. We investigate the changes in each individual period to determine the consistency of the change analysis. We then use Landsat and MODIS imagery to identify the arable lands in the grain belt of European Russia. We report on cultivation frequency, which is a key management decision that affects soil carbon stocks in croplands. We previously demonstrated for two MODIS tiles that the cultivation frequency strongly depends on location. Here we extend the analysis to a third MODIS tile. We conclude with a discussion of visible changes on the ground for four study regions: Kostroma, Chuvash Republic, Samara, and Stavropol.
Kirsten de Beurs, Grigory Ioffe, Tatyana Nefedova, Geoffrey Henebry

Erratum to: Land Change in the Carpathian Region Before and After Major Institutional Changes

Without Abstract
Catalina Munteanu, Volker Radeloff, Patrick Griffiths, Lubos Halada, Dominik Kaim, Jan Knorn, Jacek Kozak, Tobias Kuemmerle, Juraj Lieskovsky, Daniel Müller, Katarzyna Ostapowicz, Oleksandra Shandra, Premysl Stych


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