Tobias Kuemmerle 1 , 2 , Karlheinz Erb 3 , Patrick Meyfroidt 4 , Daniel Müller 1 , 5 , Peter H Verburg 6 , Stephan Estel 1 , Helmut Haberl 3 , Patrick Hostert 1 , Martin R. Jepsen 7 , Thomas Kastner 3 , Christian Levers 1 , Marcus Lindner 8 , Christoph Plutzar 3 , Pieter Johannes Verkerk 8 , Emma H van der Zanden 6 , Anette Reenberg 7
1 October 2013
Global patterns of land use intensity are poorly understood, particularly in the developing world.
The multidimensionality of land use intensity should be considered by jointly using input, output, and system metrics.
A range of cropland intensity metrics exist, but existing data are often uncertain.
Large data gaps remain for grazing and forestry intensity.
Research priorities should include first, better integration of satellite-based and ground based data, second, validating and better documentation of datasets, and third, creation of consistent time series.
Future increases in land-based production will need to focus more on sustainably intensifying existing production systems. Unfortunately, our understanding of the global patterns of land use intensity is weak, partly because land use intensity is a complex, multidimensional term, and partly because we lack appropriate datasets to assess land use intensity across broad geographic extents. Here, we review the state of the art regarding approaches for mapping land use intensity and provide a comprehensive overview of available global-scale datasets on land use intensity. We also outline major challenges and opportunities for mapping land use intensity for cropland, grazing, and forestry systems, and identify key issues for future research.