Land use

Classification of land resources based on what can be built and on its use

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Global distribution of land used for agriculture

Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as settlements and semi-natural habitats such as arable fields, pastures, and managed woods. Land use by humans has a long history, first emerging more than 10,000 years ago.[1][2] It has been defined as “the purposes and activities through which people interact with land and terrestrial ecosystems”[3] and as “the total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land type.”[4] Land use is one of the most important drivers of global environmental change.[3][5]

History[edit]

Human tribes since prehistory have segregated land into territories to control the use of land. Today, the total arable land is 10.7% of the land surface, with 1.3% being permanent cropland.[6][7]

Regulation[edit]

A land use map of Europe—major non-natural land uses include arable farmland (yellow) and pasture (light green).

Land use practices vary considerably across the world. The United NationsFood and Agriculture Organization Water Development Division explains that “Land use concerns the products and/or benefits obtained from use of the land as well as the land management actions (activities) carried out by humans to produce those products and benefits.”[8] As of the early 1990s, about 13% of the Earth was considered arable land, with 26% in pasture, 32% forests and woodland, and 1.5% urban areas. Land change modeling can be used to predict and assess future shifts in land use.

As Albert Guttenberg (1959) wrote many years ago, “‘Land use’ is a key term in the language of city planning.”[9] Commonly, political jurisdictions will undertake land-use planning and regulate the use of land in an attempt to avoid land-use conflicts. Land use plans are implemented through land division and use ordinances and regulations, such as zoning regulations. Management consulting firms and non-governmental organizations will frequently seek to influence these regulations before they are codified.

United States[edit]

Habitat fragmentation caused by numerous roads near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

In colonial America, few regulations were originally put into place regarding the usage of land. As society shifted from rural to urban, public land regulation became important, especially to city governments trying to control industry, commerce, and housing within their boundaries. The first zoning ordinance was passed in New York City in 1916,[10][11] and, by the 1930s, most states had adopted zoning laws. In the 1970s, concerns about the environment and historic preservation led to further regulation.

Today, federal, state, and local governments regulate growth and development through statutory law. The majority of controls on land, however, stem from the actions of private developers and individuals. Three typical situations bringing such private entities into the court system are: suits brought by one neighbor against another; suits brought by a public official against a neighboring landowner on behalf of the public; and suits involving individuals who share ownership of a particular parcel of land. In these situations, judicial decisions and enforcement of private land-use arrangements can reinforce public regulation, and achieve forms and levels of control that regulatory zoning cannot. There is growing concern that land use regulation is a direct cause of housing segregation in the United States today.[12]

Two major federal laws passed in the 1960s limit the use of land significantly. These are the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (today embodied in 16 U.S.C. 461 et seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

The US Department of Agriculture has identified six major types of land use in the US. Acreage statistics for each type of land use in the contiguous 48 states in 2017 were as follows:[13]

US land use (2017)[13]
Use acreage (M) km2 (M) % of total
Pasture/range 654 2.647 35
Forest 538.6 2.18 28
Cropland 391.5 1.584 21
Special use* 168.8 0.683 9
Miscellaneous* 68.9 0.279 4
Urban 69.4 0.281 4
Total** 1,891 7.653 100
  • Special use areas include national parks (29 M acres) and state parks (15 M), wildlife areas (64.4 M), highways (21 M), railroads (3M), military bases (25 M), airports (3M) and a few others. Miscellaneous includes cemeteries, golf courses, marshes, deserts, and other areas of “low economic value”. ** The total land area of the US is 9.1 M km2 but the total used here refers only to the contiguous 48 states, without Alaska etc.

Urban growth boundary[edit]

The urban growth boundary is one form of land-use regulation. For example, Portland, Oregon is required to have an urban growth boundary which contains at least 20,000 acres (81 km2) of vacant land. Additionally, Oregon restricts the development of farmland. The regulations are controversial, but an economic analysis concluded that farmland appreciated similarly to the other land.[14]

Environment[edit]

Nutritional value and environmental impact of animal products, compared to agriculture overall[15]
Categories Contribution of farmed animal product [%]
Calories

18

Proteins

37

Land use

83

Greenhouse gases

58

Water pollution

57

Air pollution

56

Freshwater withdrawals

33

Mean land use of different foods[16]
Food Types Land Use (m2year per 100g protein)
Lamb and Mutton

185

Beef

164

Cheese

41

Pork

11

Poultry

7.1

Eggs

5.7

Farmed Fish

3.7

Groundnuts

3.5

Peas

3.4

Tofu

2.2

Land use and land management practices have a major impact on natural resources including water, soil, nutrients, plants and animals.[17][18] Land use information can be used to develop solutions for natural resource management issues such as salinity and water quality. For instance, water bodies in a region that has been deforested or having erosion will have different water quality than those in areas that are forested. Forest gardening, a plant-based food production system, is believed to be the oldest form of land use in the world.[19]

The major effect of land use on land cover since 1750 has been deforestation of temperate regions.[20] More recent significant effects of land use include urban sprawl, soil erosion, soil degradation, salinization, and desertification.[21] Land-use change, together with use of fossil fuels, are the major anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide, a dominant greenhouse gas.[22]

According to a report by the United NationsFood and Agriculture Organization, land degradation has been exacerbated where there has been an absence of any land use planning, or of its orderly execution, or the existence of financial or legal incentives that have led to the wrong land use decisions, or one-sided central planning leading to over-utilization of the land resources – for instance for immediate production at all costs. As a consequence the result has often been misery for large segments of the local population and destruction of valuable habitats and ecosystems.

The citadel of Kastellet, Copenhagen that has been converted into a park, showing multiple examples of suburban land use

Land use change[edit]

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Imaging by NASA of the effects of deforestation on rainfall in Brazil, an example of land change science modeling

Land change science refers to the interdisciplinary study of changes in climate, land use, and land cover.[23] Land change science specifically seeks to evaluate patterns, processes, and consequences in changes in land use and cover over time. The purpose of land change science is to contribute to existing knowledge of climate change and to the development of sustainable resource management and land use policy. The field is informed by a number of related disciplines, such as remote sensing, landscape ecology, and political ecology, and uses a broad range of methods to evaluate the patterns and processes that underlie land cover change. Land change science addresses land use as a coupled human-environment system to understand the impacts of interconnected environmental and social issues, including deforestation and urbanization.

See also[edit]

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References[edit]

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  9. ^ JAPA 25:3
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  19. ^ Hart, Robert (1996). Forest Gardening. p. 124. ISBN 9781603580502 – via Google Books. Forest gardening, in the sense of finding uses for and attempting to control the growth of wild plants, is undoubtedly the oldest form of land use in the world.
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  23. ^ “Land Change Science Program – Science”. www.usgs.gov. Archived from the original on 2021-02-10. Retrieved 2021-02-09.

External links[edit]

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