Humans have been shaping the landscapes across the world for thousands of years. Driven by socio-economic dynamics, particularly the rapid human population growth and the advancements during and after the industrial revolution, conversion of natural lands into agricultural areas increased rapidly and has continued at high rates. As a consequence, land use and land cover change is now one of the major drivers of biodiversity change, contributes significantly to climate change, and ultimately impacts upon human well-being. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how land use change evolved over time and to project expected trajectories of future change, so that preventive and/or adaptive actions can be taken by decision-makers and policy-makers. The author first reviews the literature to highlight major advancements in understanding historical trajectories of land use and land cover change (LULCC) across the globe. Then she discusses how different methodologies (for example, remote sensing, citizen science) have allowed us to greatly improve our ability to monitor present land use and land cover change, drawing attention to current limitations and emerging solutions. She then presents and compares several approaches (for example, integrated assessment models, statistical models) to project scenarios of future land use and land cover change at multiple spatial scales (from local to global). Further, the author discusses the ways forward to produce better LULCC projections that are policy-relevant and can be used as tools to help support decisions aiming at sustainable management of the world’s natural resources.The chapter will enable the reader to get a holistic overview of the state-of-the-art in the field of land use and land cover change, from detection (monitoring) to scenario projections (modelling).
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