Despite the increasing interest planners show in land use models, their actual use in supporting the planning practice is still limited. A frequently heard complaint about these models is that they are too difficult to use. Most planners do not have a background in modelling and the calibration required for the application of a model to their region is often seen as an obstacle. The usual modeller-centred operation of such tools, inflicting upon users the full range of calibration parameters without discriminating between those who are relevant for the planning practice and those who are mere internal parameters, distracts attention from the aim of these models to support the integrated assessment of planning alternatives.
MOLAND-Light tries to bridge the gap between the MOLAND land use model and the planning practice. Its aim is to reach a large audience with a moderately complex model driven by a simple user interface. MOLAND-Light builds on the framework of the MOLAND land use model which uses a well established method known as constrained cellular automata. The total demand for each land use class is determined exogenously and the cellular automata algorithm allocates these land uses on the map. MOLAND applications are calibrated specifically for a particular region and each application therefore has its own specific parameterisation. MOLAND-Light is generic in the sense that it uses the same model with the same parameterisation for all subareas of the targeted geographical extent (EU-27). To develop a generic rule set for all regions, 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.
To ensure an easy access to planners, the user interface is simplified to those drivers relevant for planning and the calibrated applications are accessible from a web server that contains the model as well as all data and parameters. A user who wants to do a scenario study first selects a region of interest. For this region future population developments and area demands for selected land uses are defined. Then MOLAND-Light allocates these land uses on the map for each consecutive year, leading to a time series of maps of the land use developments and a set of socio-economic and environmental indicators, under the assumptions of the defined scenario.
This paper will describe the MOLAND-Light model, as well as the calibration and validation results for the generic rule set.