Land use

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Land use is the human use of land. Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as fields, pastures, and settlements. It has also been defined as "the arrangements, activities and inputs people undertake in a certain land cover type to produce, change or maintain it" (FAO, 1997a; FAO/UNEP, 1999). [1]

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Land use and regulation

Land use practices vary considerably across the world. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation Water Development Division explains that "Land use concerns the products and/or benefits obtained from use of the land as well as the land management actions (activities) carried out by humans to produce those products and benefits." [2] As of the early 1990s, about 13% of the Earth was considered arable land, with 26% in pasture, 32% forests and woodland, and 1.5% urban areas.

As Albert Guttenberg (1959) wrote many years ago, "'Land use' is a key term in the language of city planning."[3]  Commonly, political jurisdictions will undertake land use planning and regulate the use of land in an attempt to avoid land use conflicts. Land use plans are implemented through land division and use ordinances and regulations, such as zoning regulations.

Land use and the environment

Land use and land management practices have a major impact on natural resources including water, soil, nutrients, plants and animals. Land use information can be used to develop solutions for natural resource management issues such as salinity and water quality. For instance, water bodies in a region that has been deforested or having erosion will have different water quality than those in areas that are forested.

The major effect of land use on land cover since 1750 has been deforestation of temperate regions.[dead link][4] More recent significant effects of land use include urban sprawl, soil erosion, soil degradation, salinization, and desertification.[5] Land-use change, together with use of fossil fuels, are the major anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide, a dominant greenhouse gas.[6]

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