The REAL project aimed to explore potential of the state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques for monitoring of land abandonment in the Czech Republic.
The process of land abandonment has become widespread in the last decades in all CEEC reflecting substantial political and economical changes in this period. Nowadays, it represent a serious issue and if not solved in time, the abandonment of productive agricultural lands would further grow. These lands would then gradually degrade together with their cultural landscape, soils will lose their productive potential, and jobs would be lost with consequent further migrations and further land degradation in a vicious circle that would deepen the social and economic problems of these regions. Besides the major social and economical impact, the process of land abandonment can have also serious ecological consequences.
Sustainable use and management of abandoned areas and prevention of abandonement land area enlargement is one of the policy targets both on European [e.g. Agro-Environmental Regulation, Council Regulation (EEC) No 2078/92, Rural Development Regulation, Council Regulation (EEC) No 1257/99] and national level (e.g. Biodiversity Strategy of Czech Republic [MŽP,2005], Post-accession Rural Policy 2004 – 2013 [MZE, 2005]). Nevertheless, the assessment of the policy strategies requires clear measures based on the figures on status and evolution of abandoned land area. Unfortunately, there are currently no actual statistical data available on the extent of land abandonment so only rough estimates are used (e.g. total area of abandoned land about 300 000 ha, that is 7 percent of the total agricultural area (Ministry of Agriculture, 2001).
The project focused to develop and test new methodology for identification and monitoring of abandoned land via the state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques. Two pilot areas were used for demonstration of developed mapping approach – object-based classification combining three basic strategies for abandoned land monitoring: spectral (hyperspectral), textural and temporal (both long term and seasonal).
The project was done under the support of the EUPRO programme of Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic in the frame of the ERA-STAR GMES Pilot Project “Brownfields” led by INDRA, Spain.