Next HES-GEO team is unpacking the complicated relations between human needs and other species needs. How they are doing that? Continue reading the another Meet the team post.

Who we are? 

We are a group of four researchers, all of us are geographers, but each of us focuses on a different field of knowledge, which makes our team diverse but complementary. Two of us have just started our academic careers – Mahsa Shahbandeh Vayghan and Piotr Szubert – both are PhD students in the GIS Department of Jagiellonian University – and two of us are a bit more experienced – Dominik Kaim PhD (Team Leader) and Michał Jakiel PhD. 

Why do we study land use changes?  

We are currently observing dynamic changes in land use worldwide. In Poland, where we do most of our research, the changes are related to the political transformation followed by dynamic development observed since the 1990s. But the spatial distribution and dynamics of the land change processes are, on the one hand, a result of the legacies of much longer periods, and on the other hand, is very diverse throughout the country. That is why assessment of the land use changes has to be conducted in different spatial and temporal scales by using various data sources. 

How do we do that? 

Land use change research is where the most traditional, historical sources of knowledge meet the most modern achievements of data analytics, especially in computer vision (CV) and massive amounts of data analysis (Big Data). Our daily job would never be possible without Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a term used for all processes from data collection, data processing to the specific analysis and data management. The common component of all GIS datasets is the spatial dimension, making them geographically oriented. Our most common data sources are satellite and aerial multispectral imagery and historical maps.  

Why is it important? 

Land use has a substantial impact on many ecosystems services incl. food demands, water supplies, air quality and many more. It is also critical for biodiversity, as the way we use land is essential for different species not only from the perspective of how the land is managed but also because of the fact what is the land use pattern. While some species take advantage of land abandonment and reforestation, as such landscape offers them safe space for functioning (e.g. wolves), farmland-related biodiversity is at risk as their ecological niches disappear. For instance, many bird species, who are grassland specialists, suffer from land abandonment, as their habitat is decreasing every year. To understand the complicated relations between human needs and other species needs, we must map and monitor the land use changes, which is often a starting point for many research and practise challenges and solutions.  

Meet the team members 

Dominik Kaim (Team Leader) is a geographer at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management, Jagiellonian University, Poland. He received a PhD in 2014. His research focuses on land use changes and their implications in mountainous areas. The study uses various data sources like historical maps, repeat photography and current remote sensing data

Michał Jakiel is a geographer at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management, Jagiellonian University, Poland. He received a PhD in 2021. His research focuses on landscape structure and land use change around protected areas. He is also interested in the relationship between nature conservation and spatial planning, primarily how ecological networks can be implemented in legal and strategic documents on different levels of spatial planning. He uses various data sources like historical maps, aerial photographs, and spatial planning data in the research. 

Mahsa Shahbandeh is a PhD student at Jagiellonian University and a member of the HES-GEO team. Her main research interests include land-use change, agricultural land abandonment, spatial planning, GIS, and remote sensing. She is also concerned about ecosystems’ changes and environmental issues. 

Piotr Szubert is a PhD student at Jagiellonian University. His adventure with geography has started in 2014 with nature geography. During his master studies, Piotr swift for GIS. His main research interest is analysing anomalies within big spatial datasets and data collection with Machine Learning.