Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Global Land Use Database

Go to the project website.

The Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) has been developing global databases of land use and land cover by combining satellite data and census data. This website provides access to its datasets of the distribution of the world's natural vegetation, croplands, grazing lands, major crops, etc.

The Center has recently published new maps, made by Navin Ramankutty and other SAGE researchers, tracking the changing patterns of agricultural land use around the world. (See examples above and below.)
The exercise is already beginning to cast light on some emerging trends. Countries such as Argentina and Brazil, for instance, have increasingly cleared forests to grow soybean, a legume that has never been a traditional crop of Latin America. Scientists say the surge in soybean production there has a lot to do with the booming demand for soy all the way at the other end of the world - in China. Meanwhile, Monfreda notes, long-time soybean farmers in the U.S. - the world's top soybean producer - are growing increasingly insecure about their place in the global market.

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