Large-scale Behavioural Models of Land Use Change

Short Description

The working group will support the development of the next generation of large-scale (global to continental/national scales), land-use models that are based on human behaviour, agency and decision-making processes. The purpose of this approach is to explore a wide range of key research (and policy) questions at the nexus of food, ecosystems, water, climate and energy. This will support understanding of adaptation and mitigation processes within the land system in which the land system is used as an exemplar of other socio-ecological systems. The working group will create an alternative to the current range of ‘top-down’ global models (based on macro-economics) and thus, will provide a working laboratory to test theories of human decision making, and undertake social simulation experiments in a globally (inter-)connected world, i.e. taking account of telecoupling. This includes new representations of institutional processes and their relationships with local land users. We also envisage coupling of large-scale, land-use models with other models types, such as Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs), biodiversity models and/or climate emulators to explore a wide range of environmental change drivers and to evaluate the consequences of these for ecosystem services. In practice, we will work towards a common ‘modelling framework’, or a suite of models operating within a common structure. This reflects the many different ways of modelling land use change processes, especially with respect to theories of land-use decision-making. We will explore alternative realisations of these decisional processes within the common modelling framework. All model results will be made available to the broader community through an online portal.

Goals and Objectives

The overall goal of the working group is to support the creation of the next generation of large-scale, land-use change models that take account of human behaviour, agency and decision-making processes. The specific objectives are to:

  • Construct a large-scale, modelling framework that allows coupling of models of the various sub-components of the land system, e.g. decision making, global trade, biophysical responses, institutions, …;
  • >Experiment with different models of the land user, decision process based on alternative decision theories;
  • Design and implement new models of institutions (public policy organisations) and their interactions with land users;
  • Integrate the collective processes evident within communities and societies that moderate individual behaviour, e.g. knowledge exchange, social learning, education, …;
  • Explore the effects of tele-connections on global land systems, e.g. trade, knowledge exchange, migration, urbanisation, …;
  • Evaluate these new modelling approaches against observational data from different sources, e.g. case studies, remote sensing, …
  • Explore the impacts of future environmental change scenarios (climate and socio-economic change) on the land system, and the adaptive learning of land users;
  • Quantify the relationships between the land system, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, and the consequences of these relationships for ecosystem services;
  • Foster an active and cooperating community of socio-ecological system modellers.

Working Group Steering Committee

Mark Rounsevell
​Maja Schlüter
Tatiana Filatova
Birgit Müller

GLP Themes: Land-atmosphere processes, Land management systems


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Related Information


January 28, 2020
The University of Edinburgh

Apply By: 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, seeks an individual with environmental modelling and quantitative analytical skills to work within an interdisciplinary research group including GLP Members Mark Rounsevell and Peter Alexander focusing on land use and food security. The successful candidate will work on an existing global model of the food system, land use change and human dietary health (PLUM) and the development of new integrated modelling approaches for land use change, including urban, agricultural and forest land uses. Deadline to apply is 25 February 2020.

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November 26, 2019
University of Edinburgh

Apply By: 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

This project will investigate land based mitigation options for climate change and their associated trade-offs using a state-of-the-art global land use model. Position will be supervised by Mark Rounsevell and Peter Alexander. Deadline to apply is 9 Jan 2020.

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Working Group Coordinators


Working Group Members