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UMD Leads International Report Urging New Framework for Land-use Policymaking

By Rachael Grahame ’17

An associate research professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences has co-led a new paper containing 10 facts that land use scientists around the world believe are oft-overlooked in global policy debates about sustainability, conservation, climate change and more.

The paper, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was convened by the Global Land Programme, an interdisciplinary community of land scientists and practitioners co-designing global sustainability solutions. As the group’s executive officer, Ariane de Bremond helped bring together 50 land-use experts from more than 20 countries so that each could weigh in on what social and scientific factors are being left out of solutions-focused conversations.

The team developed a companion website to provide policymakers with a visual representation of the 10 facts it compiled “to ensure that this initiative continues, that this isn’t just a one-off paper, but a tool to help policymakers and practitioners do better work,” she said.

Among the takeaways:

  • Humans use land for fundamental needs such as food, energy, water and spirituality;
  • We live on a used planet, where all land, even areas considered “unused” or “untouched,” provides important benefits to people;
  • Every land-use decision, no matter how small, can have large, distant, complex and sometimes irreversible impacts; and
  • Every land-use decision has trade-offs for people and nature.


“We are careful to not call these ‘criteria,’ but if you checked these boxes and said, ‘OK, we have ensured we have taken these things into account,’ you have a much better chance of getting to a good decision; a good decision meaning a better outcome for people and nature,” said de Bremond.

See the full news release on the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences’ website.

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