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The major aim of the Commission is the enhancement of research on land use/cover change. Geographers can, and should, make a variety of contributions in this field, from both natural science and socio-economic perspectives. To foster their efforts in this fields, networking is encouraged, both between individuals and groups of members of the Commission, and between geographers and practitioners in other fields and disciplines.

The objectives of the Commission are as follows:

To promote geographical research on land use/cover changes, at scales ranging from the local to the global

The study of land use/cover changes should neither stop at local level nor focus solely at the general global level. Contributing in the gap between the two extremes is an important task. Emphasis is hence put on the research projects that can lead to outcomes at the regional, national and international outcomes. The main interest is not the mere description of land use/cover, but the explanation of its changing patterns and qualities, their causes and effects, including the bio-physical and socio-economic dimensions. The generation of concepts and theories is a priority of the Commission.

To stimulate the production and the use of land-use information bases of both the present and the past

Many land use databases and maps exist in various places and in diverse forms, but they are far from being sufficient for current world needs. We need information on land use/cover changes with considerable spatial accuracy and extent, as well as historical depth. Without adequate information on change, it is difficult to identify drivers, nor is it possible to pursue geographically explicit study of land use/cover changes and their effects. The information bases that the Study Group deals with should be more than mere collection of static land use data or maps. They include wide-ranging information and data on land use/cover changes, their drivers at different levels, including proximate and underlying ones, socioeconomic and environmental effects, and their causal and spatial relations. The Group considers it important to support and cooperate with the other database/mapping programmes. Emphasis will be put not only on recent data, but also on historical materials going back as far as the 18th century, or even further where possible. Technical issues related to data, such as classification and scale of land use/cover changes, are also considered to be important.

To coordinate the comparative study and the model study of land use/cover changes and their driving forces in different regions

Detailed case studies in different countries/regions or at different settings provide the bases of understanding land use/cover changes in the corresponding areas. They are not enough on their own, however. A comparative approach is considered to be important, as there are broad similarities between different countries at similar stages of development. In particular, as countries undergo development, they may experience recurring sets of land-use problems. The causes behind the changes are best analysed in a comparative perspective. Comparative study should be integrated with the construction of models.

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