The underpinnings of land-use history: Three centuries of global gridded land-use transitions, wood-harvest activity, and resulting secondary lands

George C. Hurtt, S. Frolking, M. G. Fearon, B. Moore, E. Shevliakova, S. Malyshev, Stephen Wilson Pacala, R. A. Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

353 Scopus citations

Abstract

To accurately assess the impacts of human land use on the Earth system, information is needed on the current and historical patterns of land-use activities. Previous global studies have focused on developing reconstructions of the spatial patterns of agriculture. Here, we provide the first global gridded estimates of the underlying land conversions (land-use transitions), wood harvesting, and resulting secondary lands annually, for the period 1700-2000. Using data-based historical cases, our results suggest that 42-68% of the land surface was impacted by land-use activities (crop, pasture, wood harvest) during this period, some multiple times. Secondary land area increased 10-44 × 106 km2; about half of this was forested. Wood harvest and shifting cultivation generated 70-90% of the secondary land by 2000; permanent abandonment and relocation of agricultural land accounted for the rest. This study provides important new estimates of globally gridded land-use activities for studies attempting to assess the consequences of anthropogenic changes to the Earth's surface over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1208-1229
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)

Keywords

  • Global change
  • Land use
  • Land-use history
  • Logging
  • Secondary forest
  • Secondary forest age
  • Secondary land
  • Shifting cultivation
  • Wood harvest

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