The consequences of establishing military training areas for land use development—A case study of Libavá, Czech Republic
This article presents results on the long-term (from 1837 to 2014) development of land use and a road network in the military training area of Libavá, the Czech Republic, and its surroundings. The key hypotheses were that the establishment of military training areas has significant impacts on the development of their land use and the road network, which are manifested mainly in an increase of forest and/or grassland use/cover, and that military training areas are affected by general trends of land use changes; however, trends connected with specific military needs still dominate. Results show that there are indeed differences in the land use development and land use change transitions in the training area and its surroundings. These were most pronounced during the most intensive military activities in the past 70 years. During this period the training area experienced massive grassing, afforestation and vegetation succession, while the surroundings were used for intensive agriculture and economic development, resulting in the spread of arable land as well as the spread of built-up areas. The road network in the area was also affected by the military regime – direct connections between towns were lost, and many roads were destroyed or lost their importance. Currently, with the withdrawal of the military from almost a third of the training area, both the training area and its surroundings are again being affected by similar driving forces, namely the spread of organic farming and implementation of agri-environmental schemes, resulting in extensive grassing. This trend will likely continue. We believe that land use development in the military training area can serve as a proxy for future land use development in recently abandoned regions.