Land use

Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as settlements and semi-natural habitats such as arable fields, pastures, and managed woods. It also has been defined as "the total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type."[1]


Europe land use map
A land use map of Europe—major non-natural land uses include arable farmland (yellow) and pasture (light green).

Land use practices vary considerably across the world. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization Water Development Division explains that "Land use concerns the products and/or benefits obtained from use of the land as well as the land management actions (activities) carried out by humans to produce those products and benefits."[2] As of the early 1990s, about 13% of the Earth was considered arable land, with 26% in pasture, 32% forests and woodland, and 1.5% urban areas. Land change modeling can be used to predict and assess future shifts in land use.

As Albert Guttenberg (1959) wrote many years ago, "'Land use' is a key term in the language of city planning."[3] Commonly, political jurisdictions will undertake land-use planning and regulate the use of land in an attempt to avoid land-use conflicts. Land use plans are implemented through land division and use ordinances and regulations, such as zoning regulations. Management consulting firms and non-governmental organizations will frequently seek to influence these regulations before they are codified.

United States

In colonial America, few regulations existed to control the use of land, due to the seemingly endless amounts of it. As society shifted from rural to urban, public land regulation became important, especially to city governments trying to control industry, commerce, and housing within their boundaries. The first zoning ordinance was passed in New York City in 1916,[4][5] and, by the 1930s, most states had adopted zoning laws. In the 1970s, concerns about the environment and historic preservation led to further regulation.

Today, federal, state, and local governments regulate growth and development through statutory law. The majority of controls on land, however, stem from the actions of private developers and individuals. Three typical situations bringing such private entities into the court system are: suits brought by one neighbor against another; suits brought by a public official against a neighboring landowner on behalf of the public; and suits involving individuals who share ownership of a particular parcel of land. In these situations, judicial decisions and enforcement of private land-use arrangements can reinforce public regulation, and achieve forms and levels of control that regulatory zoning cannot.

Two major federal laws have been passed in the last half century that limit the use of land significantly. These are the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (today embodied in 16 U.S.C. 461 et seq.) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

The US Department of Agriculture has identified six major types of land use in the US. Acreage statistics for each type of land use in the contiguous 48 states in 2017 were as follows:


Land use and land management practices have a major impact on natural resources including water, soil, nutrients, plants and animals.[7] Land use information can be used to develop solutions for natural resource management issues such as salinity and water quality. For instance, water bodies in a region that has been deforested or having erosion will have different water quality than those in areas that are forested. Forest gardening, a plant-based food production system, is believed to be the oldest form of land use in the world.[8]

The major effect of land use on land cover since 1750 has been deforestation of temperate regions.[9] More recent significant effects of land use include urban sprawl, soil erosion, soil degradation, salinization, and desertification.[10] Land-use change, together with use of fossil fuels, are the major anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide, a dominant greenhouse gas.[11]

According to a report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, land degradation has been exacerbated where there has been an absence of any land use planning, or of its orderly execution, or the existence of financial or legal incentives that have led to the wrong land use decisions, or one-sided central planning leading to over-utilization of the land resources - for instance for immediate production at all costs. As a consequence the result has often been misery for large segments of the local population and destruction of valuable ecosystems. Such narrow approaches should be replaced by a technique for the planning and management of land resources that is integrated and holistic and where land users are central. This will ensure the long-term quality of the land for human use, the prevention or resolution of social conflicts related to land use, and the conservation of ecosystems of high biodiversity value.

The citadel of Kastellet, Copenhagen that has been converted into a park, showing multiple examples of suburban land use
The citadel of Kastellet, Copenhagen that has been converted into a park, showing multiple examples of suburban land use

Urban growth boundaries

The urban growth boundary is one form of land-use regulation. For example, Portland, Oregon is required to have an urban growth boundary which contains at least 20,000 acres (81 km2) of vacant land. Additionally, Oregon restricts the development of farmland. The regulations are controversial, but an economic analysis concluded that farmland appreciated similarly to the other land.[12]

See also


  1. ^ IPCC Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change And Forestry, Land Use
  2. ^ FAO Land and Water Division retrieved 14 September 2010
  3. ^ JAPA 25:3
  4. ^ Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.
  5. ^ Nolon, John R., Local Land Use Control in New York: An Aging Citadel Under Siege (July/Aug. 1992). New York State Bar Journal, p. 38, July–August 1992.
  6. ^ Merrill, Dave; Leatherby, Lauren (July 31, 2018). "Here's How America Uses Its Land". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  7. ^ Ameztegui, Aitor; Coll, Lluis; Brotons, Lluis; Ninot, JM (2016). "Land-use legacies rather than climate change are driving the recent upward shift of the mountain tree line in the Pyrenees" (PDF). Global Ecology and Biogeography. 25 (3): 263–273. doi:10.1111/geb.12407. hdl:10459.1/65151.
  8. ^ Robert Hart (1996). Forest Gardening. p. 124. ISBN 9781603580502. Forest gardening, in the sense of finding uses for and attempting to control the growth of wild plants, is undoubtedly the oldest form of land use in the world.
  9. ^ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  10. ^ UN Land Degradation and Land Use/Cover Data Sources ret. 26 June 2007
  11. ^ UN Report on Climate Change retrieved 25 June 2007 from Web archive [1]
  12. ^ Jaeker WG, Plantinga AJ (2007). How have Land-use regulations Affected Property Values in Oregon? Archived 2012-07-22 at the Wayback Machine OSU Extension.

External links

Affordability of housing in the United Kingdom

Affordability of housing in the UK reflects the ability to rent or buy property. Housing tenure in the UK has the following main types: Owner-occupied; Private Rented Sector (PRS); and Social Rented Sector (SRS). The affordability of housing in the UK varies widely on a regional basis – house prices and rents will differ as a result of market factors such as the state of the local economy, transport links and the supply of housing.


Biomass is plant or animal material used for energy production, heat production, or in various industrial processes as raw material for a range of products. It can be purposely grown energy crops (e.g. miscanthus, switchgrass), wood or forest residues, waste from food crops (wheat straw, bagasse), horticulture (yard waste), food processing (corn cobs), animal farming (manure, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus), or human waste from sewage plants.Burning plant-derived biomass releases CO2, but it has still been classified as a renewable energy source in the EU and UN legal frameworks because photosynthesis cycles the CO2 back into new crops. In some cases, this recycling of CO2 from plants to atmosphere and back into plants can even be CO2 negative, as a relatively large portion of the CO2 is moved to the soil during each cycle.

Cofiring with biomass has increased in coal power plants, because it makes it possible to release less CO2 without the cost assosicated with building new infrastructure. Co-firing is not without issues however, often an upgrade of the biomass is beneficiary. Upgrading to higher grade fuels can be achieved by different methods, broadly classified as thermal, chemical, or biochemical (see below).

Drainage basin

A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from rain runoff, snowmelt, and nearby streams that run downslope towards the shared outlet, as well as the groundwater underneath the earth's surface. Drainage basins connect into other drainage basins at lower elevations in a hierarchical pattern, with smaller sub-drainage basins, which in turn drain into another common outlet.Other terms used interchangeably with drainage basin are catchment area, catchment basin, drainage area, river basin, and water basin. In North America, the term watershed is commonly used to mean a drainage basin, though in other English-speaking countries, it is used only in its original sense, that of a drainage divide.

In a closed drainage basin, or endorheic basin, the water converges to a single point inside the basin, known as a sink, which may be a permanent lake, a dry lake, or a point where surface water is lost underground.The drainage basin acts as a funnel by collecting all the water within the area covered by the basin and channelling it to a single point. Each drainage basin is separated topographically from adjacent basins by a perimeter, the drainage divide, making up a succession of higher geographical features (such as a ridge, hill or mountains) forming a barrier.

Drainage basins are similar but not identical to hydrologic units, which are drainage areas delineated so as to nest into a multi-level hierarchical drainage system. Hydrologic units are defined to allow multiple inlets, outlets, or sinks. In a strict sense, all drainage basins are hydrologic units but not all hydrologic units are drainage basins.


A forest is a large area dominated by trees. Hundreds of more precise definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. According to the widely used Food and Agriculture Organization definition, forests covered 4 billion hectares (9.9×109 acres) (15 million square miles) or approximately 30 percent of the world's land area in 2006.Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of Earth, and are distributed around the globe. Forests account for 75% of the gross primary production of the Earth's biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. Net primary production is estimated at 21.9 gigatonnes carbon per year for tropical forests, 8.1 for temperate forests, and 2.6 for boreal forests.Forests at different latitudes and elevations form distinctly different ecozones: boreal forests near the poles, tropical forests near the equator and temperate forests at mid-latitudes. Higher elevation areas tend to support forests similar to those at higher latitudes, and amount of precipitation also affects forest composition.

Human society and forests influence each other in both positive and negative ways. Forests provide ecosystem services to humans and serve as tourist attractions. Forests can also affect people's health. Human activities, including harvesting forest resources, can negatively affect forest ecosystems.

Geography of Argentina

The geography of Argentina describes the geographic features of Argentina, a country located in southern South America (or Southern Cone). Bordered by the Andes in the west and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, neighboring countries are Chile to the west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, and Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast.

In terms of area, Argentina is the second largest country of South America after Brazil, and the 8th largest country in the world. Its total area is approximately 2.7 million km². Argentina claims a section of Antarctica (Argentine Antarctica) but has agreed to suspend sovereignty disputes in the region as a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty. Argentina also asserts claims to several South Atlantic islands administered by the United Kingdom.

With a population of more than 42.1 million, Argentina ranks as the world's 32nd most populous country as of 2010.

Geography of Germany

Germany is a country in west-central Europe, that stretches from the Alps, across the North European Plain to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Germany has the second largest population in Europe (after the European part of Russia) and is seventh largest in area. The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349,223 km2 (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7,798 km2 (3,011 sq mi) of waters.

Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres (9,718 ft)) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the northwest and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the northeast. Between lie the forested uplands of central Germany and the low-lying lands of northern Germany (lowest point: Neuendorf-Sachsenbande at 3.54 metres (11.6 ft) below sea level), traversed by some of Europe's major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.Germany shares borders with nine European countries, second only to Russia: Denmark in the north, Poland and the Czech Republic in the east, Switzerland (its only non-EU neighbor) and Austria in the south, France in the southwest and Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in the west. Germany's position in Europe, including bordering countries, have put it at a significant disadvantage in numerous wars, including World War I and World War II.

Geography of Italy

Italy is located in southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the southern side of Alps, the large plain of the Po Valley and some islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Corsica, although belonging to the Italian geographical region, has been a part of France since 1769. Italy is part of the Northern Hemisphere.

Its total area is 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), of which 294,140 km2 (113,570 sq mi) is land and 7,200 km2 is water (2,780 sq mi). It lies between latitudes 35° and 48° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E.

Italy borders Switzerland (698 km or 434 mi), France (476 km or 296 mi), Austria (404 km or 251 mi) and Slovenia (218 km or 135 mi). San Marino (37 km or 23 mi) and Vatican city (3.4 km or 2.1 mi) are enclaves.

Including islands, Italy has a coastline of 7,600 km (4,700 mi) on the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ligurian Sea, Sea of Sardinia and Strait of Sicily.

Geography of Kenya

The geography of Kenya is diverse, varying amongst Kenya's 47 Counties. Kenya has a coastline on the Indian Ocean, which contains swamps of East African mangroves. Inland are broad plains and numerous hills.

Central and Western Kenya is characterised by the Kenyan Rift Valley and central province home to the highest mountain, Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon on the border between Kenya and Uganda. The Kakamega Forest in western Kenya is a relic of an East African rainforest. Much bigger is Mau Forest, the largest forest complex in East Africa.

Geography of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly called "Ceylon", is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, southeast of the Indian subcontinent, in a strategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes. The nation has a total area of 65,610 km², with 64,740 km² of land and 870 km² of water. Its coastline is

1,340 km (830 mi) long. The main island of Sri Lanka has an area of 65,268 km²; it is the twenty-fifth largest island of the world by area. Dozens of offshore islands account for the remaining 342 km² area. The largest offshore island, Mannar Island, leads to Adam's Bridge.

Adam's Bridge, a land connection to the Indian mainland, is now mostly submerged with only a chain of limestone shoals remaining above sea level. According to temple records, this natural causeway was formerly complete, but was breached by a violent storm (probably a cyclone) in 1480. The formation is also known as Rama's Bridge, as according to Hindu mythology, it was constructed during the rule of Lord Rama.

Sri Lanka's climate includes tropical monsoons: the northeast monsoon (December to March), and the southwest monsoon (June to October). Its terrain is mostly low, flat to rolling plain, with mountains in the south-central interior. The highest point is Pidurutalagala at 2,524.13 m (8,281.3 ft). Natural resources include limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower.

Greenhouse gas

A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Without greenhouse gases, the average temperature of Earth's surface would be about −18 °C (0 °F), rather than the present average of 15 °C (59 °F). The atmospheres of Venus, Mars and Titan also contain greenhouse gases.

Human activities since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (around 1750) have produced a 40% increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), from 280 ppm in 1750 to 406 ppm in early 2017. This increase has occurred despite the uptake of more than half of the emissions by various natural "sinks" involved in the carbon cycle. The vast majority of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (i.e., emissions produced by human activities) come from combustion of fossil fuels, principally coal, oil, and natural gas, with additional contributions coming from deforestation, changes in land use, soil erosion and agriculture (including livestock).Should greenhouse gas emissions continue at their rate in 2017, Earth's surface temperature could exceed historical values as early as 2047, with potentially harmful effects on ecosystems, biodiversity and human livelihoods. At current emission rates temperatures could increase by 2 °C, which the United Nations' IPCC designated as the upper limit to avoid "dangerous" levels, by 2036.

Land-use planning

Land-use planning is the process of regulating the use of land in an effort to promote more desirable social and environmental outcomes as well as a more efficient use of resources. Goals of land-use planning may include environmental conservation, restraint of urban sprawl, minimization of transport costs, prevention of land-use conflicts, and a reduction in exposure to pollutants. By and large, the uses of land determine the diverse socioeconomic activities that occur in a specific area, the patterns of human behavior they produce, and their impact on the environment.

In urban planning, land-use planning seeks to order and regulate land use in an efficient and ethical way, thus preventing land-use conflicts. Governments use land-use planning to manage the development of land within their jurisdictions. In doing so, the governmental unit can plan for the needs of the community while safeguarding natural resources. To this end, it is the systematic assessment of land and water potential, alternatives for land use, and economic and social conditions in order to select and adopt the best land-use options. Often one element of a comprehensive plan, a land-use plan provides a vision for the future possibilities of development in neighborhoods, districts, cities, or any defined planning area.

In the United States, the terms land-use planning, regional planning, urban planning, and urban design are often used interchangeably, and will depend on the state, county, and/or project in question. Despite confusing nomenclature, the essential function of land-use planning remains the same whatever term is applied. The Canadian Institute of Planners offers a definition that land-use planning means the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities. The American Planning Association states that the goal of land-use planning is to further the welfare of people and their communities by creating convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive environments for present and future generations.

Land development

Land development is altering the landscape in any number of ways such as:

Changing landforms from a natural or semi-natural state for a purpose such as agriculture or housing

Subdividing real estate into lots, typically for the purpose of building homes

Real estate development or changing its purpose, for example by converting an unused factory complex into condominia.

Land law

Land law is the form of law that deals with the rights to use, alienate, or exclude others from land. In many jurisdictions, these kinds of property are referred to as real estate or real property, as distinct from personal property. Land use agreements, including renting, are an important intersection of property and contract law. Encumbrance on the land rights of one, such as an easement, may constitute the land rights of another. Mineral rights and water rights are closely linked, and often interrelated concepts.

Land rights are such a basic form of law that they develop even where there is no state to enforce them; for example, the claim clubs of the American West were institutions that arose organically to enforce the system of rules appurtenant to mining. Squatting, the occupation of land without ownership, is a globally ubiquitous phenomenon.

Land use, land-use change, and forestry

Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF), also referred to as Forestry and other land use (FOLU), is defined by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat as a "greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use such as settlements and commercial uses, land-use change, and forestry activities."LULUCF has impacts on the global carbon cycle and as such, these activities can add or remove carbon dioxide (or, more generally, carbon) from the atmosphere, influencing climate. LULUCF has been the subject of two major reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Additionally, land use is of critical importance for biodiversity.

Land use in Oregon

Land use in Oregon concerns the evolving set of laws affecting land ownership and its restrictions in the U.S. state of Oregon.

Protected area

Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international organizations involved.

The term "protected area" also includes Marine Protected Areas, the boundaries of which will include some area of ocean, and Transboundary Protected Areas that overlap multiple countries which remove the borders inside the area for conservation and economic purposes. There are over 161,000 protected areas in the world (as of October 2010) with more added daily, representing between 10 and 15 percent of the world's land surface area. By contrast, only 1.17% of the world's oceans is included in the world's ~6,800 Marine Protected Areas.Protected areas are essential for biodiversity conservation, often providing habitat and protection from hunting for threatened and endangered species. Protection helps maintain ecological processes that cannot survive in most intensely managed landscapes and seascapes.

Regional planning

Regional planning deals with the efficient placement of land-use activities, infrastructure, and settlement growth across a larger area of land than an individual city or town. Regional planning is a sub-field of urban planning as it relates land use practices on a broader scale. It also includes formulating laws that will guide the efficient planning and management of such said regions.

Urban planning

Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks. Urban planning deals with physical layout of human settlements. The primary concern is the public welfare, which includes considerations of efficiency, sanitation, protection and use of the environment, as well as effects on social and economic activities. Urban planning is considered an interdisciplinary field that includes social, engineering and design sciences. It is closely related to the field of urban design and some urban planners provide designs for streets, parks, buildings and other urban areas. Urban planning is also referred to as urban and regional planning, regional planning, town planning, city planning, rural planning, urban development or some combination in various areas worldwide.

Urban planning guides orderly development in urban, suburban and rural areas. Although predominantly concerned with the planning of settlements and communities, urban planning is also responsible for the planning and development of water use and resources, rural and agricultural land, parks and conserving areas of natural environmental significance. Practitioners of urban planning are concerned with research and analysis, strategic thinking, architecture, urban design, public consultation, policy recommendations, implementation and management. Enforcement methodologies include governmental zoning, planning permissions, and building codes, as well as private easements and restrictive covenants.Urban planners work with the cognate fields of architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and public administration to achieve strategic, policy and sustainability goals. Early urban planners were often members of these cognate fields. Today urban planning is a separate, independent professional discipline. The discipline is the broader category that includes different sub-fields such as land-use planning, zoning, economic development, environmental planning, and transportation planning.


Zoning is the process of dividing land in a municipality into zones (e.g. residential, industrial) in which certain land uses are permitted or prohibited. In addition, the sizes, bulk, and placement of buildings may be regulated. The type of zone determines whether planning permission for a given development is granted. Zoning may specify a variety of outright and conditional uses of land. It may also indicate the size and dimensions of land area as well as the form and scale of buildings. These guidelines are set in order to guide urban growth and development.Areas of land are divided by appropriate authorities into zones within which various uses are permitted.

Thus, zoning is a technique of land-use planning as a tool of urban planning used by local governments in most developed countries. The word is derived from the practice of designating mapped zones which regulate the use, form, design and compatibility of development. Legally, a zoning plan is usually enacted as a by-law with the respective procedures. In some countries, e. g. Canada (Ontario) or Germany, zoning plans must comply with upper-tier (regional, state, provincial) planning and policy statements.

There are a great variety of zoning types, some of which focus on regulating building form and the relation of buildings to the street with mixed-uses, known as form-based, others with separating land uses, known as use-based or a combination thereof.

Similar urban planning methods have dictated the use of various areas for particular purposes in many cities from ancient times.

Land use
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