Lost in transition: determinants of post-socialist cropland abandonment in Romania


The transition from command to market-oriented economies drastically affected land ownership and land management in Eastern Europe and resulted in widespread cropland abandonment. To examine these phenomena, we analysed the causes of post-socialist cropland abandonment in Arges County in southern Romania between 1990 and 2005. Based on Landsat-derived maps of cropland use and a suite of environmental and socioeconomic variables hypothesized to drive cropland abandonment, we estimated spatially explicit logistic regression models for two periods (1990-1995 and 1995-2005) and three elevation groups. Our results showed that isolated cropland patches were more likely to become abandoned than more homogenous cropland areas. Unfavorable topography was an important determinant of abandonment in the plain and, to a lesser extent, hilly areas, but not in the mountains where locations with adverse market access and higher farm fragmentation exhibited higher likelihoods of cropland abandonment.

Journal of Land Use Science