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The challenge of future land resource management tackled


The world has changed rapidly in the last decades, with profound changes in the ways we use the land to support a growing, and increasingly affluent and urban population. Substantial increases in rates of change of human impact occur around mid-20th century in many cases. This illustrates how the past 50 years have been a period of significant and unprecedented change in human history. This is confirmed by the development of land management regimes as depicted in Figure 1. As we head towards a global population of more than 9 billion people, we have entered a critical decision space, a window of several decades within which it is still possible to avert a move beyond the planet’s sustainability threshold.

The successful transition towards a global society that can live within the planet’s boundaries is widely seen as the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. More people will require more space and more resources, which will have to be provided by a finite land surface facing added pressures from our changing climate. Land use change is inevitable and managing this change sustainably will become a major challenge. There are inherent uncertainties, and responsibility will have to be shared by governments, the private sector and individual citizens. A major first step toward achieving the future we want is to understand better what type of world we would like to live in.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Spatio-temporal distribution of land management regimes. Gradual change

culminates in increasing rates of change towards the end of the 20th century.


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