Land abandonment is an important cause of changes in landscape patterns in the Mediterranean area. There is a need to monitor land use and land cover changes in order to provide quantitative evidence of the relationship between land abandonment and the formation of new landscape patterns. Appropriate management policies to encourage sustainable development can then be developed. This paper describes how to monitor landscape dynamics using different temporal land use and land cover data generated from field survey and airborne information. The results showed that the abandonment of agricultural land generally results in an increase of vegetation biomass. This process leads to homogenization of the landscape. In addition, abandonment promotes fragmentation of agricultural land. Based on these results, the paper discusses the implications for rural management policies concerning the abandonment of agricultural land and suggests recommendations for the development of such policies. © 2005 University of Newcastle upon Tyne.