Land use and land cover (LULC) changes and their impact on the mountain environment
were studied in six catchments (10 km(2) each) in the Polish Western Carpathians from
the mid-19(th) century to the early 21(st) century. The analysis of cadastral and
orthophoto maps indicates that during the investigated period, the forest area increased,
quantified by an annual change index (Annch), between +0.12% to +0.27%, with a decrease
of arable land index to-0.45% and-2.28% in the analysed catchments. LULC changes were
accompanied by a continuous increase in settlement developments (residential and farming
houses) by 50%-140% as well as significant changes related to their spatial distribution.
Abandonment of arable land and forest succession have resulted in the geomorphological
transformation of hillslopes, which predominantly includes a decrease in used road
density, their transformation to road cuts and gorges. Overpopulation and the domination
agriculture in the past caused the expansion of unpaved roads density and then the
fragmentation of hillslopes, as well as the development of agricultural terraces.