Increasing global population put tremendous pressure on limited land resources and has led to changes in land use. Changing land use patterns are of great importance in environmental studies and critical for land use management decision-making. Thus, it is important to understand the relationship between the pattern of land use/cover change and its drivers in a region to initiate specific planning and management decisions. The objective of this study was to quantify changes in land use from a case study area in Chalous, Iran and identify geophysical characteristics (e.g., slope, elevation and soil) and socio-economic (e.g., population density, tourist industry, accessibility and land price) elements of the changes. This will help assess the impact on the trends in changing land use in the study area and elsewhere with similar conditions. In this study, multi-temporal satellite images, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and semi-structured interviews were used to evaluate the spatio-temporal dynamics of land use/cover changes over a 20-year period (1996-2016). Supervised classification based on the maximum likelihood algorithm was used to obtain the land use classes with an overall accuracy of 87%, 92% and 93.50%, and kappa coefficients of 82.87%, 88.66% and 89.98% for 1996, 2006 and 2016, respectively. Change detection analysis also showed that agricultural land was reduced by 11.09% and built up areas were increased by 15.89% over the period of 20 years. The comprehensive evaluation of geophysical and socio-economic driving forces and the local characteristics of farmers indicated that economic factor and the tourist industry mainly contributed to the change from agricultural lands to built-up areas. In addition, a lack support from the government and the agricultural ministry also contributed to these conversions. Thus, investigation of the complexity of socio-ecological relationships and interaction with land use change drivers are necessary for sustainable planning and development and policy decisions.
Keywords: Change trend; Driving forces; Environmental management; GIS; Policy making; Remote sensing.
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