Spatial and temporal patterns of land clearing during policy change | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
June 2018
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

Environmental policies and regulations have been instrumental in influencing deforestation rates around the world. Understanding how these policies change stakeholder behaviours is critical for determining policy impact. In Queensland, Australia, changes in native vegetation management policy seem to have influenced land clearing behaviour of landholders. Periods of peak clearing rates have been associated with periods preceding the introduction of stricter legislation. However, the characteristics of clearing patterns during the last two decades are poorly understood. This study investigates the underlying spatiotemporal patterns in land clearing using a range of biophysical, climatic, and property characteristics of clearing events. Principal component and hierarchical cluster analyses were applied to identify dissimilarities between years along the political timeline. Overall, aggregate landholders’ clearing characteristics remain generally consistent over time, though noticeable deviations are observed at smaller regional and temporal scales. While clearing patterns in some regions have shifted to reflect the policy’s goals, others have experienced minimal or contradictory changes following regulation. Potential ‘panic’ or ‘pre-emptive’ effects are evident in the analysis, such as spikes in clearing for pasture expansions, but differ across regions. Because different regions are driven by different pressures, such as land availability and regulatory opportunity, it is imperative that the varying spatial and temporal behavioural responses of landholders are monitored to understand the influence of policy and its evolution. Future policy amendments would benefit from monitoring these regional responses from landholders to better assess the effectiveness of policy and the potential perversities of policy uncertainty.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Simmons, B. Alexander
Law, Elizabeth A.
Marcos-Martinez, Raymundo
Bryan, Brett A.
McAlpine, Clive
Wilson, Kerrie A.


Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.

Data provider

ScienceDirect logo

What is ScienceDirect

Elsevier’s leading platform of peer-reviewed scholarly literature.

University libraries and institutions offer ScienceDirect access to their communities of researchers.

Researchers, teachers, students, healthcare and information professionals use ScienceDirect to improve the way they search, discover, read, understand and share scholarly research.

Share this page