Change in agriculturally used land and related habitat loss: A case study in eastern Estonia over 50 years

Kana, Silja; Kull, Tiiu; Merit Otsus
June 2008
Estonian Journal of Ecology;2008, Vol. 57 Issue 2, p119
Academic Journal
This study investigates land use changes on an area of 128 km2 in Jõgeva County, eastern Estonia, by comparing landscape types in a vegetation map from the 1950s with the land use structure described on the Estonian Basic Map produced in 2002. We concentrated in particular on changes in agricultural land, but also changes of both species-rich and species-poor habitats were studied. The most widespread process was forestation, which reduced the total area of arable land by 21% and of grassland nearly by 4%. During the 50 years the land use of 90% of the forest land area, 46% of the arable fields, and only 11% of the grasslands had remained spatially stable. The extremely high spatial turnover of grasslands is due to loss of historical meadows and wooded meadows. This suggests a decreased habitat quality of present grasslands. Most of the new agricultural land was created on species-rich grasslands and species-poor fens. Forest expanded mostly on species-rich grasslands and fertile arable land.


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