Our Earth's Changing Land
An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change
by Helmut Geist
December 2005, 792pp, 7x10
2 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-32704-9
$201, £155, 175€, A276

This encyclopedia provides a state-of-the-art understanding of how land has changed over that last 300 years.

Scientists predict that the environment over the next 100 years will be threatened by severe challenges—the loss of biodiversity, expected changes in world-wide climate, and decreasing amounts of arable land and potable water for an exploding human population. All of these will greatly impact how the earth will be able to support life in the future. And at the center of these global environmental changes are developments in land use. Over the last 300 years, and in particular the last 50 years, the earth’s land has been altered drastically as a result of increasing industrialization and urbanization worldwide, as well as by changes in agricultural techniques in lands under cultivation. These developments raise troubling questions about our future: How will these changes affect the sustainability of certain types of land use? How will they impinge upon critical regions, like rainforests and deserts? Will the earth be able to provide for the basic human needs of food, shelter, and water?

The Earth’s Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land Use and Land-Cover Change is an A-to-Z encyclopedia that addresses all aspects of the science of land-use change: Evidence of land-use and land-cover change over the last 300 years, and how these changes impact the lives of people today. Discussions of the models and techniques that scientists use to determine how, and how fast, the earth is changing. Entries on the scientists and organizations who study these developments and who attempt to predict what will happen to the earth in the future. Discussions of policies and measures that can be implemented on a local level that will allow a sensible balance between sustainability and development. Written by leading scientists who have spent years studying the phenomena, the encyclopedia hopes to provide a strong foundation for understanding current controversies, and is written on a level that is understandable to scientists and other interested readers alike.


"In the past 20 years an extensive body of knowledge and data has accumulated regarding land-cover change both contemporary and historical. This encyclopedia lists more than 300 land-change topics alphabetically, from analysis, burning, and case studies, to organizations and research programs, rangelands, and urban-industrial change. A lengthy introductory essay treats historical aspects of land-use change and the major topics of interest today. The many references point the way to further reading. This unique work will be useful for academic and larger public libraries. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty/researchers."—Choice, May 1, 2006

"Society's impact on the sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems is an emerging area of public interest and interdisciplinary research. Noted author and researcher Geist provides editorial direction for this truly unique encyclopedia on global land use, ecology, and land-cover changes over the past 300 years. Written by leading scientists, the encyclopedia includes an eclectic mix of 318 signed A-to-Z entries on the topics of land-use change agents, policies, impacts, models, technology, government programs, and geographic and geopolitical regions....The coverage of land-related issues is excellent, and up-to-date citations and statistics help provide a context to emerging issues....Suitable for general readers and undergraduate students, this encyclopedia can inexpensively fill a gap in larger public and most academic libraries."—Library Journal, June 15, 2006

"Land-use conversion is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. This authoritative set addresses all aspects of the science of land-use change and is appropriate for upper-level high school students on up."—Library Journal, February 1, 2008

"[C]ould be placed in either reference or circulation collections. It addresses topics of increased interest and importance in a timely and thorough fashion. Informed by recent scholarship, this work should answer specific questions, as well as provide stimulation for further inquiry."—Against the Grain, January 1, 2007

"This book is a model of how a reference book should be produced... Universities, government and non-government organizations and others concerned with land use will find this book a very good guide to the study and understanding of land use change."—Reference Reviews, August 1, 2006

"Written for scientists and educated lay-people in a style that is accessible to high school and college students, this comprehensive set covers key terms and topics of land-use change."—VOYA, December 1, 2006

"Chapters survey not just land use patterns past, present and future, but draw important connections between changing human needs, changing earth conditions, and what scientists and organizations studying these trends predict for the future. Add discussions of the politics and economics involved and you have a hard-hitting 2-volume set perfect for college-level collections offering resources on environmental or land use issues alike."—Midwest Book Review - Internet Bookwatch, August 1, 2006

"Created with support from the Interational Geographical Union's Commission on Land Use/Cover Change (IGU-LUCC), this set provides an overview on land change as a forcing function in global environmental change....The work would be a useful reference tool for undergraduates as well as for scientists and educated laypeople who are interested in broadening their knowledge of land change. Although there are many encyclopedias on the environment, there is little devoted solely to land use. This comprehensive resource fills a gap and is recommended for academic and large public libraries."—Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin, June 1, 2006

"This reference is the product of ten years of study under the auspices of the Land Use/Cover Change (LUCC) project carried out by the International Council of Scientific Unions, in conjunction with related projects by other scientific organizations, including NASA, LUCC China, and the Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics, among others. Written at a level suitable for college and advanced high school students, the reference features several in- depth introductory essays on central issues, including the causation and history of land use, the dynamics of terrestrial surface cover and their study, the dynamics of land change and its modeling, and examples of land-use/cover change. More than 300 entries follow, on topics that include biomass burning, causes of land use/cover change, conventions and environmental agreements, models and scenarios, as well as change in different ecosystems, such as dryland or forest, and change in specific geographic areas."—SciTech Book News, March 1, 2006
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