Abstract

This chapter addresses the question: Can Earth's iand resources support current and future populations? It explores the economic, geographic, social, and environmental linkages between and among different land uses and the challenges of sustainable land use. Land resources are finite but restorable. Land is the medium for most human activities. It provides food, fiber, fuel, shelter, and natural resources. While some of these land uses are complementary, many of them are exclusive. Land used for settlements cannot be used simultaneously for agriculture or the extraction of nonrenewable resources. This chapter examines the trade-offs between these different land uses and major constraints on land resources in the context of current and future trends, such as population growth, urbanization, the growing demand for bioenergy, and changes in diet. The chapter considers current conceptualizations of how land is measured, presents a conceptual framework to quantify land sustainability, and identifies prospects and opportunities for sustainable land use.

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