Land management: data availability and process understanding for global change studies

Erb, K-H., Luyssaert, S., Meyfroidt, P., Pongratz, J., Don, A., Kloster, S., Kuemmerle, T., Fetzel, T., et al. (2017). Land management: data availability and process understanding for global change studies. Global Change Biology 23 (2) 512-533. 10.1111/gcb.13443.

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Project: Visions Of LANd use Transitions in Europe (VOLANTE, FP7 265104), Land use change: assessing the net climate forcing, and options for climate change mitigation and adaptation (LUC4C, FP7 603542), Detecting changes in essential ecosystem and biodiversity properties – towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change (BACI, H2020 640176), Coordinating an Observation Network of Networks EnCompassing saTellite and IN-situ to fill the Gaps in European Observations (ConnectinGEO, H2020 641538), An integrated socioecological approach to land-use intensity: Analyzing and mapping biophysical stocks/flows and their socioeconomic drivers (LUISE, FP7 263522), Developing middle-range theories linking land use displacement, intensification and transitions (MIDLAND, H2020 677140), Do forests cool the Earth? Reconciling sustained productivity and minimum climate response with portfolios of contrasting forest management strategies (DOFOCO, FP7 242564), Effects of phosphorus limitations on Life, Earth system and Society (IMBALANCE-P, FP7 610028)


In light of daunting global sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and food security, improving our understanding of the complex dynamics of the Earth system is crucial. However, large knowledge gaps related to the effects of land management persist, in particular those human-induced changes in terrestrial ecosystems that do not result in land cover conversions. Here we review the current state of knowledge of ten common land management activities for their biogeochemical and biophysical impacts, the level of process-understanding and data availability. Our review shows that ca. one tenth of the ice free land surface is under intense human management, half under medium and one fifth under extensive management. Based on our review, we cluster these ten management activities into three groups: (1) management activities for which datasets are available, and for which a good knowledge base exists (cropland harvest and irrigation); (2) management activities for which sufficient knowledge on biogeochemical and biophysical effects exists but robust global datasets are lacking (forest harvest, tree species selection, grazing and mowing harvest, N-fertilization); and (3) land management practices with severe data gaps concomitant with an unsatisfactory level of process understanding (crop species selection, artificial wetland drainage, tillage and fire management and crop residue management, an element of crop harvest). Although we identify multiple impediments to progress, we conclude that the current status of process understanding and data availability is sufficient to advance with incorporating management in e.g. Earth System or Dynamic Vegetation models in order to provide a systematic assessment of their role in the Earth system. This review contributes to a strategic prioritization of research efforts across multiple disciplines, including land system research, ecological research and Earth system modelling.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Land management; global land use datasets; data availability; land-cover modification; process understanding; Earth system models
Depositing User: Romeo Molina
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2016 14:02
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 05:00

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