Of the challenges facing the Earth over the next century, the understanding of land-use and land-cover change is likely to be the most significant. This anthropogenic process affects many parts of the earth’s system (e.g., climate, hydrology), global biodiversity, and the fundamental sustainability of lands. Various estimates indicate that 50 percent of the ice-free land surface has been affected or modified in some way by human activity while a large fraction of the global net primary productivity has been captured by human land use activities. Over the next century, global population is projected to increase by 50-100% and it is likely that there will also be an increase in the global standard of living. Thus pressures to further convert or manage “natural” ecosystems for human needs as well as capturing more of the global net primary productivity are also likely to increase.

The Land Use Land Cover Change Research Group at Brown University seeks to address problems in this critical area through interdisciplinary research activities. Our goals are to understand how land cover and land use is changing, how it changed in the past, and what are the principal drivers of change. We put current land use and land cover in the context of its land use history. We are also interested in the impacts of land use and cover change on natural systems, as well as reverse feedbacks. This effort is allied with Brown’s Environmental Change Initiative and involves participation from diverse disciplines.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Environmental Change Initiative | Environmental Studies | Geological Sciences | Marine Biological Laboratory | Watson Institute
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