Global Landscapes Initiative

We often view land use as a local environmental issue, but it's quickly becoming a matter of global importance. Today, we use more than 15 million square kilometers, an area about the size of South America, just to grow crops. For pasture and rangeland, we use more than 32 million square kilometers—an area comparable to the continent of Africa. Altogether, our cities, crops and pastures occupy more than 40 percent of the planet's total land surface.

By the year 2050, the world population is expected to reach about 9 billion. That's almost 3 billion more people who need food, water and shelter to survive. This rapid population growth, combined with rising dietary and biofuel consumption, has led to a major transformation of Earth's land, water and air systems.

Through the Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI), the Institute on the Environment is working to understand extreme land use changes, to improve our ability to balance human needs with environmental stewardship, and to promote secure landscapes across the globe.

The Other Inconvenient Truth

Watch the TEDxTC presentation by Jon Foley on how agriculture is changing the face of the planet.
Watch the video on YouTube


Big Question: Feast or Famine?

How are we going to feed a growing world without destroying the planet?
Watch the video on YouTube

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Project Lead

Nature Online

Atlas Earth (BETA)