Land cover and use are changed by humans for a variety of purposes, such as to produce food, fibres, timber and energy, to raise animals, for shelter and housing, transport infrastructure, tourism, and recreation. These human activities have affected most areas in the world, transforming natural areas to human-dominated landscapes, changing ecosystem structure and species distribution, and water, nutrient and carbon cycles. Natural landscape characteristics and land cover also affect humans, determining suitable areas for settlement and agriculture, and delivering a wide range of ecosystem services. As such, land cover and land use can be understood as the complex description of the state and processes in a land system in a certain location. It results from the interplay of natural and human processes, such as crop cultivation, fertilizer input, livestock density, type of natural vegetation, forest management history, and built-up areas.
In IMAGE, elements of land cover and land use are calculated in several components, namely in land use allocation, forest management, livestock systems, carbon cycle and natural vegetation. The output from these components forms a description of gridded global land cover and land use that is used in these and other components of IMAGE. In addition, this description of gridded land cover and land use per time step can be provided as IMAGE scenario information to partners and other models for their specific assessments.
Land cover and land use described in an IMAGE scenario is a compilation of output from various IMAGE components. This compilation provides insight into key processes in land-use change described in the model and an overview of all gridded land cover and land use information available in IMAGE. Land cover and land use is also the basis for the land availability assessment, which provides information on regional land supply to the agro-economic model , based on potential crop yields, protected areas, and external datasets such as slope, soil properties, and wetlands.
This Wiki covers the summer 2014 version of the IMAGE model. A dedicated description can be found on the IMAGE 3.0 webpage.