Changing land use and land cover

land use changeThe conversion of natural habitat to land used for agriculture and industry is occurring on a global scale, driven by an increasing demand for food, animal products, and biofuel. Habitat conversion alters the structure and function of ecosystems in many ways, including:

  • substantial reduction of biological diversity, and nitrogen and phosphorous deposition from agricultural field runoff.

  • local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from land clearing by burning, which is particularly problematic in tropical and subtropical regions where oil palm cultivation is rapidly increasing.

  • soil degradation, causing desertification and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions by eroding soils and releasing stored carbon.

  • impacts on water quality and quantity, and exposure to water-borne and vector-borne disease in ways that are inadequately understood.



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