Land Use Change and Ecosystems


Course Objective

To achieve a high level of understanding of global change processes
related to terrestrial ecosystems and human land use. Objectives of this
course include:
- being able to conceptualize the role of land use and terrestrial
ecosystems both as drivers and as impacts of global environmental
- achieve understanding of human-environment interactions and
feedbacks between ecological, physical and social (including economic)
- become familiar with research methods to study land use change
and ecosystem dynamics, including the analysis of driving factors, the
simulation of land use dynamics, biodiversity impacts and the assessment
of human-environment interactions through global value chains and life
cycle assessment;
- becoming able to match interdisciplinary research questions with
appropriate scientific tools and methods;
- understand potential options and policies for sustainable land

Course Content

This interdisciplinary course contains three parts. In the first part
students will be trained in understanding the extent, the driving
factors and the impacts of land use change. We will look at global
perspectives of land use changes and impacts of such changes on
ecosystems. At the same time, the impacts of global environmental
changes on livelihoods and ecosystem services at the local scale will be
addressed. In the second part of the course the students will be
presented with a portfolio of research methods, theoretical models and
simulation models to analyze dynamics of land use. Practicals and
computer exercises will provide a hands-on experience with these
methods. Methods and models discussed will originate from different
disciplines and include global economic models (Computable General
Equilibrium Models), spatial land use models, life-cycle assessment and
biodiversity impact assessment models. During an assignment students
will match research questions with appropriate (combinations) of
methods. In the third part of the course transitions to sustainable land
use will be discussed including multiple goals such as food security,
land-based climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation. Both global
perspectives, governance aspects as well as implementation at the local
level (i.e. nature-inclusive agriculture) will be discussed.

Teaching Methods

Lectures, Practical (computer) exercises. Self-study, including
literature study and an individual assignment.

Method of Assessment

Written exam (70%) and practical and assignment results (30%).


Selected articles and practical instructions will be made available on

Target Audience

First year students of MSc Earth Sciences, specialization Global
Environmental Change and Policy who meet the above entry requirements.

Recommended background knowledge

Basic knowledge of GIS is recommended.

General Information

Course Code AM_1235
Credits 6 EC
Period P3
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. ir. P.H. Verburg
Examiner prof. dr. ir. P.H. Verburg
Teaching Staff prof. dr. ir. P.H. Verburg
dr. A.J.A. van Teeffelen
dr. J. Dell'Angelo
dr. ir. O.J. Kuik
dr. M.J. Koetse

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Computer lab, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: