Land-Use and Land-Cover Change (LULCC)

Authored by: Burak Güneralp

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:


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Land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) is an integral component of global environmental change. Land cover refers to the physical characteristics of Earth’s surface. Land use refers to how the land is utilized by humans for various purposes. There is a large body of both theoretically and empirically grounded work on LULCC that falls under the umbrella of the relatively new discipline of land-change science. The biophysical processes and human activities interact in changing land use and land cover. The critical aspects underlying much of these recent debates on LULCC are further separation of the landscapes of consumption and those of production, and the ultimate scarcity of land. Although there is no overarching theory of land change, there have been many theories put forward to explain land-change dynamics. Land-change models, informed by the theoretical body on land-change processes, are essential in evaluating various scenarios of societal and biophysical changes in terms of land-change outcomes. The greatest challenge in the coming decades will be the formulation of an overarching theory of land change.

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