Driving forces of main landscape change processes from past 200 years in Central Europe - differences between old democratic and post-socialist countries

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Abstract

The article compares and points out differences in driving forces of four main landscape change processes that shaped post-socialist countries and old democratic countries of Central Europe during the last two centuries. Studying landscape change processes and corresponding driving forces helps in understanding patterns of present landscape and can help among others in better prediction of future landscape change trends. Here, the presented results are based on review of scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 2000 and 2014. Driving forces affecting these processes were grouped into four categories. Economic forces drove mainly agricultural intensification; agricultural land abandonment and urbanisation and were pronounced especially in the second half of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century. Technological driving forces affected agricultural intensification especially in the 19th century and the second half of the 20th century while cultural driving forces had the biggest impact on urbanisation at the beginning of the 21st century. Political driving forces affected agricultural intensification, urbanisation as well as agricultural land abandonment and were pronounced mainly during the second half of the 20th century in the post-socialist countries. Political forces in the form of subsidies drove agricultural extensification at the beginning of the 21st century. The drivers for the agricultural intensification as well as urbanisation seem to be similar for both old democratic and post-socialist countries. In contrast, agricultural land abandonment in the old democratic countries was driven by technological, cultural and economic driving forces while in the post-socialist countries the political driving forces were mainly responsible. Changes in systems for subsidies and changes in the agricultural commodity markets are also responsible for different frequencies and rates of extensification of agriculture between the two groups of countries.

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