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International Journal of Agricultural Policy and Research
ISSN 2350-1561
Vol.3 (4), pp. 172-184, April 2015
Available online at
Article 14/ID/JPR221/013 pages
Author(s) agree that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License.

Original Research Article

Analysis of agricultural land uses through land suitability classes in Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

JMFC dos Reis* and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho

University of the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal

* Corresponding Author E-mail:
Tel.: +351-295628853

date Received:     date Accepted: December 12, 2014     date Published:


The aim of this paper is to identify the long-term determinants of land uses. To achieve this, we analyse land-use changes in Terceira island in response to a short run period of major changes in market conditions and policy interventions under different environmental conditions defined by land suitability classes. For this purpose land uses are crossed with thirteen land suitability classes that result from grouping all the combinations of four biophysical attributes that are suitable for alternative land uses and land covers. Land uses showed a good adherence to the corresponding areas of land suitability classes, despite the occurrence of land uses on marginal areas of suitability. A cartographic interpretation of Land Parcel Identification System inventory is carried out and analysed. Landscape metrics and transition matrix are designed to detect the differences between agricultural landscape structures and land-use changes from 2001 to 2011. Although changes in land-use classifications impede a more indepth analysis, results show that land-use changes under the dynamic economic and policy context (2001-2011) are strongly constrained by the biophysical features of the territory indicating also the unsuitability of policies that do not take into account that diversity.

Key words: Land suitability, agricultural land-use, land-use change, Azores.

Reis and Dentinho