This study analyses the spatial and temporal pattern of land use/forest cover change in the Artvin Forest Planning Unit (AFPU) surrounding the city of Artvin, Turkey. To assess the spatiotemporal changes in forest ecosystem patterns during 1972-2002, we evaluated forest stand maps of 1972, 1985 and 2002 using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The results showed that the total forested areas decreased from 4617 ha (88.4% of the study area) in 1972 to 4167 ha (79.8%) in 2002, with a considerable net decrease of 450 ha. 198 ha forest openings changed into settlements and agriculture during the first period (1972-1985). 158 ha degraded forest areas changed into settlements and agriculture during the second period (1985-2002). The population of Artvin increased two times over 30 years and high variability in land use/forest cover changes during the study period was reported. In terms of spatial configuration, as a result of unplanned exploitation, settlement, dam and road construction, insect Outbreaks on spruce stands, conversion and over utilization, many natural ecosystems were fragmented into small pieces in the AFPU and the total number of forest fragments rapidly increased from 108 to 202. Substantial increase in the number of patches and decrease in the average patch sizes between 1972 and 2002 indicated irregular land use and forest structure, and also suggested that human interventions had produced irregular land cover types.