Agricultural land (% of land area) from The World Bank: Data Allocation ranges from less than ten percent, particularly across countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Scandinavian region to close to 80 percent across most regions (including the UK, Uruguay, South Africa, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia). We have color-coded the map based on our current agricultural land requirements and our physical land constraints as follows: Other studies confirm this distribution of global land: in an analysis of how humans have transformed global land use in recent centuries, Ellis et al. To provide some clarity on the definitions used here (and the common terminology within the literature) we have visualised these land use categories and groupings in the chart shown here. Anthropogenic transformation of the biomes, 1700 to 2000. There is large variability in the share of land a given country uses for agriculture. Reducing the consumption of resource-intensive products and increasing the productivity of land makes it possible to produce food with much smaller inputs and reducing the impact on the environment. In the table we provide a comparison of the values used in Ausubel’s projection, and our own analysis of changes in these variables from 2009-2014 (measured in percent change per year). Value added of the agriculture sector in the U.S. 2011-2020 Total value of U.S. agricultural exports from 2012 to 2020 Total value of U.S. agricultural imports 2012-2020 values in 1961 are equal to 1.0. Livestock farming can take place across a range of diverse climatic and environmental regions (for example, ranging from cattle rearing in temperate regions to sheep farming in hilly and semi-arid terrain); meaning that this type of agriculture is potentially less geographically-constrained than arable farming. Our measured agricultural area appears to be most closely aligned to the FAO/IMAGE projection, which is characterised by a very slow increase in areal extent over the coming decades before peaking around 2040. 10% of the world is covered by glaciers, and a further 19% is barren land – deserts, dry salt flats, beaches, sand dunes, and exposed rocks.1 This leaves what we call ‘habitable land’. The figures given here are slightly lower for protein production (37% of the world total) because seafood from wild capture fisheries are not included (as they are not grown on terrestrial land). Note that these are not used to represent the distribution of each: this figure does not mean the United States is wholly used for livestock, or that Europe comprises only of barren land. You have the permission to use, distribute, and reproduce in any medium, provided the source and authors are credited. In 2019, 28,338 were listed as threatened with extinction. What determines the amount of arable land we use? This left only 45% as ‘natural’ or ‘semi-natural’ land. The figures given here are slightly lower for protein production (37% of the world total) because seafood from wild capture fisheries are not included (as they are not grown on terrestrial land). The total land area used for coarse grains has remained approximately constant over this 50 year period, and is the 2nd largest user of arable land. However, most projections suggest a peaking of land expansion in the timespan between 2020 and 2040. At present some 11 percent (1.5 billion ha) of the globe's land surface (13.4 billion ha) is used in crop production (arable land and land under permanent crops). The major uncertainties – and explanation for discrepancies – in these assessments is the allocation of ‘rangelands’: in some regions it can be difficult to accurately quantify how much of rangelands are used for grazing, and how much is free from human pressure. The agricultural area is the sum of arable land, permanent crops, permanent meadows and pastures. Area of land covered by forests. The U.S. is a big place, nearly 1.9 billion acres. This correlates very closely to the actual land in land use; FAO figures suggest this also grew at 0.37 percent per year. With solutions from both consumers and producers, we have an important opportunity to restore some of this farmland back to forests and natural habitats. Land use statistics for the World. In some countries (particularly in Central Asia, including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan) this can reach up to 70 percent. Permanent crops are sown or planted once, and then occupy the land for some years and need not be replanted after each annual harvest, such as cocoa, coffee and rubber. To meet the demands of a rapidly growing population on a planet with finite land resources, reducing our per capita land footprint is essential. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19(5), 589-606. Global population has more than doubled over the last 50 years. Per capita land use is highest in North America– more than double the land use of any other region. There are two main uses of agricultural land: arable farming (which is land dedicated to growing crops), and pastureland (which includes meadows and pastures used for livestock rearing). In the map here we see the share of total (both habitable and non-habitable) land area used for agriculture. These numbers are taken from FAO (2013) – Statistical Yearbook. Online here. If we view the map in “chart” mode, we see how the allocation of land to agriculture has changed over time across the global regions. If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. Available online. This visualisation shows total land used for agriculture (which is a combination of cropland and grazing land) over the long-term, measured in hectares. Data for “Arable land” are not meant to indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable. In the chart here we have plotted the average land required (sometimes termed the “land footprint”) to produce one gram of protein across a range of food types. As the chart details, 71 percent of our land is considered habitable, and half of that land is used for agriculture. This includes 431.1 million acres of cropland, 396.9 million acres of pasture, and 71.5 million acres of forests. How much land do countries use for agriculture? where steep land has been terraced or where yields less than the MCFY are acceptable under the local economic and social conditions (see also Box 4.2). In 2019, 24,001 species were threatened by ‘agriculture and aquaculture’. For comparison: The area of the USA, Canada and China are all short of 1,000 million ha (USA 963 million ha, China 932 million ha, Canada 909 million ha). There is also a highly unequal distribution of land use between livestock and crops for human consumption. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provide global statistics on crop and food production, supply chains, and food available for human consumption. Today, the world population uses approximately 50 percent of total habitable land for agriculture. If we extend our land coverage above from arable land use to total agricultural land (which is the sum of arable, permanent crops and pastures and meadows), we still see overall declines in land per person but with different rates and patterns of reduction. How the land gets utilized will shape the country’s future for years to come. Note that species can have multiple threats; this therefore does not mean agriculture was the only threat for such species. Permanent pastures are 68.4% of all agricultural land (26.3% of global land area), arable land (row crops) is 28.4% of all agricultural land (10.9% of global land area), and permanent crops (e.g. It has transformed habitats and is one of the greatest pressures for biodiversity: of the 28,000 species evaluated to be threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List, agriculture is listed as a threat for 24,000 of them.4 But we also know that we can reduce these impacts – both through dietary changes, by substituting some meat with plant-based alternatives and through technology advances. Is the expansion of global agricultural land likely to continue in the coming decades? All of our charts can be embedded in any site. total build-up land (villages, towns, cities & infrastructure) would fit into an area the size of Libya; shrub land is equivalent to an area the size of East Asia-Pacific, from Malaysia southwards; barren land is equivalent to the size of Europe; glaciers (permanent ice & snow) approximates to an area of Antarctica & Greenland combined.
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