Issue: Contributions of land to human life - Space occupied by human activities

This is an issue under the Land theme of the Data Reporting System.

Why we need to know about this issue

The land contributes many benefits to human life but utilising those contributions can exert pressures on the land environment. Environmental degradation resulting from these and other pressures could ultimately erode the land’s capacity to supply these benefits. In the shorter term, the additional effort needed to obtain these contributions in the face of environmental degradation could exert even greater and more damaging long-term pressure on the environment.

To have the full story, it is therefore important to track not only what is happening to the pressures, the resulting condition of the land and the societal responses but also what is happening to the contributions. If the contributions can be maintained or increased while responses are undertaken to ensure that environmental pressures are reduced and environmental condition maintained or improved, then the contributions from the land can become environmentally sustainable.

One absolute requirement human settlements place on the land is somewhere to exit. Humans are essentially land animals and (with very few exceptions) need to form their settlements on land. The continuing demand for more land to accommodate expanding human populations and activities is a major reason for human pressure on other life forms using the land, and on the services they provide both to humans and to other life.

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