Land-use choices: Balancing human needs and ecosystem function

Ruth S. DeFries, Jonathan A. Foley, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

549 Scopus citations

Abstract

Conversion of land to grow crops, raise animals, obtain timber, and build cities is one of the foundations of human civilization. While land use provides these essential ecosystem goods, it alters a range of other ecosystem functions, such as the provisioning of freshwater, regulation of climate and biogeochemical cycles, and maintenance of soil fertility. It also alters habitat for biological diversity. Balancing the inherent trade-offs between satisfying immediate human needs and maintaining other ecosystem functions requires quantitative knowledge about ecosystem responses to land use. These responses vary according to the type of land-use change and the ecological setting, and have local, short-term as well as global, longterm effects. Land-use decisions ultimately weigh the need to satisfy human demands and the unintended ecosystem responses based on societal values, but ecological knowledge can provide a basis for assessing the trade-offs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume2
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Land-use choices: Balancing human needs and ecosystem function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this