Coastal land-use and land-cover change trajectories: Are they sustainable?

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In this study, past and current land-use and land-cover (LULC) change trajectories between 1947 and 2018 were analysed in terms of sustainability using a unique set of nine detailed, high-precision LULC thematic maps for the municipality of Portimão (Algarve region), Portugal. Several Geographic Information System (GIS)-based spatial analysis techniques were used to process LULC data and assess the spatiotemporal dynamics of LULC change processes. The dynamics of LULC change were explored by analysing LULC change trajectories. In addition, spatial pattern metrics were introduced to further investigate and quantify the spatial patterns of such LULC change trajectories. The findings show that Portimão has been experiencing complex LULC changes. Nearly 52% of the study area has undergone an LULC change at least once during the 71-year period. The analysis of spatial pattern metrics on LULC change trajectories confirmed the emergence of more complex, dispersed, and fragmented shapes when patches of land were converted from non-built categories into artificial surface categories from 1947 to 2018. The combined analysis of long-term LULC sequences by means of LULC change trajectories and spatial pattern metrics provided useful, actionable, and robust empirical information that can support sustainable spatial planning and smart growth, which is much needed since the results of this study have shown that the pattern of LULC change trajectories in Portimão municipality has been heading towards unsustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8840
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021


  • Dynamic systems
  • Long-term change
  • LULC change typology processes
  • Planning
  • Spatial pattern metrics
  • Urban sustainability


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