Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Influence of post -Soviet land reform on the patterns of land use dynamics in Gauja National Park, Latvia
by Taff, Gregory N., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007, 194; 3272570
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation analyzes landuse and landcover dynamics in Gauja National Park (GNP), Latvia from the late Soviet period (1985) through 2002. Landcover change in the Park is assessed through analyses of remotely sensed imagery in conjunction with ancillary Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data layers. Changes in landcover composition and patterns are measured using post-classification change analyses of Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite images, and by computing landscape pattern metrics, respectively. These landscape changes are examined with respect to GNP stakeholder group interests, as determined through qualitative interviews with key informants. Statistical regression models are developed to determine effects on the landscape of spatially explicit variables representing social, biophysical, geographic, and political drivers of landcover change in GNP. Finally, a landowner survey conducted by the GNP Administration was geocoded and statistically analyzed using crosstabs with respect to geographically explicit variables to understand important factors affecting landowner attitudes to GNP landuse policies.

Results from the key informant interviews show that community leaders representing GNP residents are interested in broadening landuse rights and compensation for owners of use-restricted lands. Environmental NGOs, Western government organizations, and supra-national organizations promote their interests in preserving biodiversity in GNP, while Latvian landscape scientists express interest in preserving Latvia’s cultural landscape and promoting rural development within the Park.

Landcover change analyses showed an increase in forest cutting immediately after Latvia’s independence (in 1991), and, following, a consistent overall growth in forested lands, particularly in the more protected zones of the Park. A decrease in the amount of fields and meadows was evident since Latvian independence, resulting in a deterioration of Latvia’s cultural landscape.

Regression analyses showed the most important predictor variables of the type of landcover change, on a per pixel basis, were the management zones of the Park, the distance from large water bodies, the distance to the nearest road, the municipality, and the slope of the land. In addition, crosstab analyses showed that landowners in zones with more landuse restrictions were more likely to be supportive of GNP landuse policies than were landowners in zones with fewer landuse restrictions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Walsh, Stephen J.
Commitee: Bilsborrow, Richard E., Gesler, Wilbert M., Pickles, John, Wolford, Wendy
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 68/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography
Keywords: Cultural landscapes, Gauja National Park, Land reform, Latvia, Post-Soviet
Publication Number: 3272570
ISBN: 978-0-549-12242-5
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