The Impacts of COVID19 on land use
The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly transformed society, the economy and social habits, highlighting a deep division between a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ that – even today – is difficult to forget. In addition, these changes have triggered transformations that are not very evident, but nevertheless unique in their kind, that a first glance, not directly connected to the pandemic. One of these is land use.
Hectares of land analysed
The case of Moldova
Approximately 70% of the Moldovan population in rural areas depends on agriculture. More than half of the approximately 2 million hectares of agricultural land is arable and used for annual production of crops: maize, wheat, sunflower, barley, oilseeds, soya and sugar beet. The highly fertile soils are mainly located in the north of the country and in the Dniester River Valley. Here, conditions are appropriate especially for production of cereals, maize, fruit (apples, plums, nuts), vegetables, etc.
During the Covid- 19 pandemic, many of the Moldovans living in European countries (Italy, Spain, etc.) came back to Moldova. This segment of the population is believed to have taken advantage of employment opportunities in the agricultural sector, outside of urban areas. Mobility restrictions due to the pandemic, in addition to the influx of previously expatriate citizens, have thus created a complex situation, with an obvious lack of general information on the status and timing of seasonal agricultural activities and the possible impact on food production and supply chains.
Different kinds of data with one purpose
In order to respond to the health and economic crisis, to raise awareness among central and local administrations, to support evidence-based decision-making and to assess the crisis impact, our team – together with other specialists from all over Europe – has set up a national collaborative platform to organize and integrate new data, including Earth Observation satellite, big data (particularly on mobility) and other types of data.
More outbreaks, fewer plantations
Thanks to our team’s work, it was possible to identify a possible correlation between plantations state in 2020 – especially orchards – and COVID-19 outbreaks, identifying the most affected areas and thus providing the right data to organize a coordinated response.