Back to search

Chapter 2: Brief History of Land Use

GLO chapter 2

There is broad evidence to suggest that direct human alteration of terrestrial ecosystems by hunting, foraging, land clearing, agriculture, and other activities started about 12,000 years ago. Beginning around 8,000 years ago, agricultural land use expanded in Mesopotamia and in the Fertile Crescent areas of southwest Asia; this was followed by growth in China, India, and Europe. Intensive land use patterns developed in India; in China; in Africa; and in South America.

By approximately 6,000 years ago, agricultural expansion had spread across most continents, leading to the clearing of native vegetation and to the culling, or domestication, of herbivores. Native flora and fauna were replaced with intensive crop and livestock management practices as human populations grew and became denser. Starting around 1750, the transformation of land started to accelerate, and rapid land use change continues to be a dominant influence today. This chapter explores the history of land use over the centuries, and briefly discusses aspects, including:

  • The common era
  • A new economic paradigm
  • Land as natural capital
  • A century of land use change
chapter 2

Chapter 2: Brief History Of Land Use

By approximately 6,000 years ago, agricultural expansion had spread across most continents, leading to the clearing of native vegetation and to the culling, or domestication, of herbivores. Native flora and fauna were replaced with intensive crop and livestock management practices as human populations grew and became denser. Starting around 1750, the transformation of land started to accelerate, and rapid land use change continues to be a dominant influence today.

Read more: