Global land use change, economic globalization, and the looming land scarcity

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Eric F Lambin, Patrick Meyfroidt

Abstract

A central challenge for sustainability is how to preserve forest ecosystems and the services that they provide us while enhancing food production. This challenge for developing countries confronts the force of economic globalization, which seeks cropland that is shrinking in availability and triggers deforestation. Four mechanisms-the displacement, rebound, cascade, and remittance effects-that are amplified by economic globalization accelerate land conversion. A few developing countries have managed a land use transition over the recent decades that simultaneously increased their forest cover and agricultural production. These countries have relied on various mixes of agricultural intensification, land use zoning, forest protection, increased reliance on imported food and wood products, the creation of off-farm jobs, foreign capital investments, and remittances. Sound policies and innovations can therefore reconcile forest preservation with food production. Globalization can be harnessed to increase land use efficiency rather than leading to uncontrolled land use expansion. To do so, land systems should be understood and modeled as open systems with large flows of goods, people, and capital that connect local land use with glob...Continue Reading

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