• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

Land use and sustainability indicators

Land Use Policy (2004)
Haberl H, Wackernagel M and Wrbka T (guest eds)
Vol 21; No 3; pp. 193-198

Bioproductive land is one of the most significant natural resources. People use the land for receiving ecological services. This leads to humans using and favouring certain species, while competing with all other species. Land use can create diverse cultural landscapes of outstanding aesthetic, economic and ecological value, but it may equally result in land degradation, soil loss and impoverished ecosystems. Hence land use is shaped by processes of society–nature interaction. These processes can detract from sustainability—in other words, society–nature interaction may deplete the natural capital upon which the provision of ecosystem services for humans depends. Sustainability indicators aim at monitoring key aspects of society–nature interaction in order to generate information needed to document the current state and the history leading up to it. Moreover, they are useful to communicate complex sustainability problems within the scientific community, to policy-makers and the broad public. This paper introduces a special issue that seeks to contribute to the development of sustainability indicators that track society–nature interaction. We focus on a variety of concepts that measure socio-economic metabolism. All the discussed approaches relate socio-economic energy and material flows to the bioproductive area needed to support them, above all, the ecological footprint and the human appropriation of net primary production. In addition, this special issue also analyses the consequences of land use intensity on the diversity, naturalness and patterns of landscapes.

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IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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