The dynamics of land use change in England and Wales, 1930-2000: a spatial and temporal analysis

Swetnam, R.D.. 2007 The dynamics of land use change in England and Wales, 1930-2000: a spatial and temporal analysis. University of Exeter, PhD Thesis.

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The nature of Britain's landscape at any one point in space and time reflects both current and past interactions between socio-economics, geography and climate. Although an ancient landscape, it is highly dynamic and human use of this resource has changed over both spatial and temporal scales. For the first time, historical data from the 1st and 2nd Land Utilisation Surveys of Great Britain in the 1930s and the 1960s have been integrated with the later Countryside surveys of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (1978, 1984, 1990 and 1998). These disparate data sources have been used to create a unique time-line of historical land use change for a sample of rural landscapes throughout England and Wales and a suite of spatial analysis tools are used in this thesis to illuminate the patterns and processes within. Overall this targeted sample proved remarkably effective at capturing the key trends in land use change of the 20th Century including: the increase in forestry, the intensification and spatial polarisation of agriculture and the expansion of urban areas. The efficacy of the Countryside Survey as a mechanism to monitor such important change is discussed. A new method of summarising the process of change is presented and the results generated by this approach show that on average only 40% of the sample squares were stable throughout the time-span and that different types of change (cyclical, stepped, dynamic) were often interspersed throughout a 1km landscape. Successful data archaeology has allowed a contemporary audit of land use change for representative rural landscapes in England and Wales during the 20th Century and provides useful insight into the impact of post war rural policy on known locations. Land use science often focuses on the environmental aspects of landscapes, but true understanding of the socio-economic drivers for change is required to set these physical observations in their true context. The emerging findings of the geographic analysis are discussed within the context of a detailed, interdisciplinary case study which combines quantitative and qualitative data to provide a holistic understanding of how global, European and national policy have combined to produce land use patterns at the local scale.

Item Type: Publication - Thesis (PhD)
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Other
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Online copy available through the British Library Electronic Thesis Online Service (EThOS) at You will need to be registered with EThOS to be able to order/view this thesis.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 05 Sep 2007 15:50 +0 (UTC)

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