Land Use

Land Capability Assessment & Land Use Planning

Land Capability identifies the potential and flexibility of the land for different land uses, including for agriculture (arable, improved grassland, rough grazing etc.), forestry and bioenergy crops. Many countries use Land Capability assessment and mapping for planning purposes, including in the UK. I have developed and applied new Land Capability procedures which include present and future climate change, as implemented through Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

For many locations, climate change affects land use decisions such as choice of crops, livestock, and trees. This will also affect other aspects of the natural environment such as water resources, soils, biodiversity, and plans to reach Net Zero greenhouse emissions. Related work has used land capability linked to the various different functions that the land can provide with the aim of planning for a more sustainable future.


Brown I (2020) Challenges in delivering climate change policy through land use targets for afforestation and peatland restoration. Environmental Science & Policy 107, 36-45. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2020.02.013

Wang C, Donaldson-Selby G, Ode Sang A, Brown I, Miller, D Muñoz-Rojas J (2020) Landscape Modelling and Stakeholder Engagement: Participatory Approaches and Landscape Visualisation. In: Sang N (ed). Modelling Nature-based Solutions. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108553827

Brown I (2016) Climate change and soil wetness limitations for agriculture: spatial risk assessment framework with application to Scotland. Geoderma 285, 173-184 doi:10.1016/j.geoderma.2016.09.023

Brown, I, Castellazzi, M (2015) Changes in climate variability with reference to land quality and agriculture in Scotland. International Journal of Biometeorology, 59, 717-732.

Brown, I, Castellazzi, M (2014) Scenario analysis for regional decision making on sustainable multifunctional landscapes. Regional Environmental Change 14, 1357-1371

Brown, I, Poggio, L, Gimona, A, Castellazzi, M (2011) Climate change, drought risk and land capability for agriculture: implications for land use in Scotland. Regional Environmental Change, 11, 503-518

Brown, I.; Poggio, L.; Gimona, A.; Castellazzi, M.S., (2011) Land capability classification to plan for a changing climate., In: Land Quality and Land Use Information in the European Union (eds. G. Toth and T. Nemeth). Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Brown, I., Towers, W., Rivington, M., Black, H. (2008) Influence of climate change on agricultural land-use potential: adapting and updating the land capability system for Scotland. Climate Research, 37, 43-57.