Title

The underpinnings of land-use history: three centuries of global gridded land-use transitions, wood-harvest activity, and resulting secondary lands

Abstract

To accurately assess the impacts of human land use on the Earth system, information is needed on the current and historical patterns of land-use activities. Previous global studies have focused on developing reconstructions of the spatial patterns of agriculture. Here, we provide the first global gridded estimates of the underlying land conversions (land-use transitions), wood harvesting, and resulting secondary lands annually, for the period 1700–2000. Using data-based historical cases, our results suggest that 42–68% of the land surface was impacted by land-use activities (crop, pasture, wood harvest) during this period, some multiple times. Secondary land area increased 10–44 × 106 km2; about half of this was forested. Wood harvest and shifting cultivation generated 70–90% of the secondary land by 2000; permanent abandonment and relocation of agricultural land accounted for the rest. This study provides important new estimates of globally gridded land-use activities for studies attempting to assess the consequences of anthropogenic changes to the Earth's surface over time.

Publication Date

7-2006

Journal Title

Global Change Biology

Publisher

Wiley

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01150.x

Document Type

Article