Sustainable land use for the 21st century
It is estimated that the human footprint has affected 83% of the global terrestrial land surface and has degraded about 60% of the ecosystems services in the past 50 years alone. Land use and land cover (LUCC) change has been the most visible indicator of the human footprint and the most important driver of loss of biodiversity and other forms of land degradation. Recent trends on global demand for food and bioenergy change – which are closely linked to food and energy price spikes and volatility – have raised concerns on the impact of LUCC change on biodiversity and other environmental impacts.
Additionally, LUCC change could lead to natural resource degradation – which affect the poor the most since they heavily depend on natural resources. Since the earth Summit in 1992, the international community, individual countries, communities, civil society and businesses have increasingly become aware of the environmental impact of LUCC change.
This paper assesses the LUCC change and explores factors which could be addressed to ensure sustainable development. The paper is divided into five sections and the first one begins by exploring what science tells us about LUCC change. The second section uses three case study countries to discuss how LUCC changes happen in practice. This is followed by an analysis of the land management programs and the effectiveness of market-based instruments. The fourth section discusses LUCC modeling and the last section concludes the paper by looking at the future prospects of LUCC change.
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