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Socio-economic and institutional changes may accelerate the rates and determinants of land-use and land-cover change (LULCC). Our goal was to explore the determinants of agricultural land abandonment in post-soviet Russia during the first decade of transition from-state command to market driven economy from 1990 to 2000. Based on economic assumptions of the profit maximization we selected and analyzed the determinants of agricultural land abandonment for one large agro-climatic and economic region of European Russia that covered 150,500 km2 and 67 districts in Kaluga, Rjazan, Smolensk, Tula and Vladimir provinces. We integrated maps of abandoned agricultural land (five Landsat TM/ETM+ footprints 185*185 km each with 30-m resolution), environmental and geographic determinants, and socioeconomic statistics and estimated logistic regressions at the pixel-level. Our results showed that agricultural land abandonment was significantly associated with lower average grain yields in the late 1980s, distances to villages, municipalities and settlements > 500 citizens, isolated agricultural areas within the forest matrix and distances from forest edges. Hierarchical partitioning showed that average grain yields in the late 1980s contributed the most in explaining the variability of abandonment (42%, of the explained variability), followed by location characteristics of the land. The results suggest that the underling driving forces such as massive decline of state subsidies for agriculture was a key contributor for the amount of abandonment and those areas socially, economically and environmentally marginal agriculture areas were the first to be left uncultivated.


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