Urban Environment Project


MOLAND was initiated in 1998 under the MURBANDY (Monitoring Urban Dynamics) project whose aim was to monitor the developments of urban areas and to identify trends at regional and European scales. The methodology for MOLAND includes the:

  • preparation of databases for cities and regions
  • development of spatial analysis techniques for the production of indicators and for definition of strategies for integrated territorial analysis
  • development of modelling techniques for testing scenarios

MOLAND operates on two scales, a macro and a micro scale. The macro scale works on a regional basis whereas the micro scale assigns a land use category to each grid cell. To predict a change in the category for any one grid cell a technique called constrained ‘Cellular Automata’ is used. The prediction for the evolution of any one cell is based on information and constraints derived from neighbouring cells.

Example Moland Image
© Joint Research Centre

Cellular Automata consists of:

  • Euclidian space divided into a grid of identical cells, generally two dimensional
  • Cell neighbourhood for flow and diffusion processes
  • A set of potential cell states
  • Transition rules that determine the state of a cell based on neighbouring cells
  • Discrete time steps during which cells are all updated simultaneously.

MOLAND classifications

The land-use classifications in MOLAND are based on an extended set of classifications from CORINE. There are 5 main categories with a number of sub-categories which are broken down into further sub-classes (approx. 95 in total) though not all of these are relevant in the Irish context. A sample of the main classes are given below.

  • Artificial surfaces
    - urban fabric
    - industrial, commercial and transport units
    - mine, dump and construction sites
    - artificial, non-agricultural vegetated areas
  • Agricultural areas
    - arable land
    - permanent crops
    - pastures
    - heterogeneous agricultural areas
  • Forests and semi-natural areas
    - Forests
    - Shrub and/or herbaceious vegetation associations
    - Open spaces with little or no vegetation
  • Wetlands
    - Inland wetlands
    - Coastal wetlands
  • Water bodies
    - Inland waters
    - Marine waters