The PLUREL project – Peri-urban Land Use Relationships – is a large research project funded within the 6th framework programme of the European Union. It aims to develop strategies and sustainability assessment tools for urban-rural linkages to support the analysis of urbanisation trends in the EU so that ways can be identified of both supporting this process and mitigating its negative impacts. The main scale of analysis of the project is the so-called Rural-Urban Regions (RUR), which has been defined based on the concept of a functional urban region: an urban core and its surrounding commuting ring. A RUR can therefore include both rural and peri-urban areas as well as the core city.
Within the PLUREL project JRC and RIKS have jointly developed MOLAND-Light. This is a tool with which you can easily assess future land developments in a RUR region of your choice. MOLAND-Light is based on the MOLAND land use change model, but simplified to allow accessibility for the general public. You can download MOLAND-Light, select the RUR region of interest and then run simulations until 2030. Results of each simulation are presented as a series of annual land use maps and several environmental and socio-economic indicators. Drivers include time lines for agricultural and forested area, jobs and population. MOLAND-Light does not contain the full model and associated data. Instead this is hosted on a central server that the system communicates with to run simulations. This reduces the requirements to run a model locally. Moreover, data protected by IP rights can be used to run simulations at no charge. A main challenge of RIKS’ work in the PLUREL project was to find a generic parameter set for the land use model that would yield realistic results for each of the RUR regions. In order to construct this parameter setting, MOLAND-Light was calibrated for selected case study areas, representing both urbanized and more rural areas, and independently validated for other areas over the same simulation period. Note that MOLAND-Light is only to be used for demonstration purposes, not for research or policy analysis.