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.
Climatic impacts of land use, land-use change, and forestryEdit
Land-use change can be a factor in CO2 (carbon dioxide) atmospheric concentration, and is thus a contributor to global climate change. IPCC estimates that land-use change (e.g. conversion of forest into agricultural land) contributes a net 1.6 ± 0.8 Gt carbon per year to the atmosphere. For comparison, the major source of CO2, namely emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production, amount to 6.3 ± 0.6 Gt carbon per year.
This decision sets out the rules that govern how Kyoto Parties with emission reduction commitments (so-called Annex 1 Parties) account for changes in carbon stocks in land use, land-use change and forestry. It is mandatory for Annex 1 Parties to account for changes in carbons stocks resulting from deforestation, reforestation and afforestation (B Article 3.3) and voluntary to account for emissions from forest management, cropland management, grazing land management and revegetation (B. Article 3.4).
The impact of land-use change on the climate is also more and more recognized by the climate modeling community. On regional or local scales, the impact of LUC can be assess by Regional climate models (RCMs). This is however difficult, particularly for variables, which are inherently noisy, such as precipitation. For this reason, it is suggested to conduct RCM ensemble simulations.
Land use and biodiversityEdit
The extent, and type of land use directly affects wildlife habitat and thereby impacts local and global biodiversity.  Human alteration of landscapes from natural vegetation (e.g. wilderness) to any other use can result in habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, all of which can have devastating effects on biodiversity. Land conversion is the single greatest cause of extinction of terrestrial species. An example of land conversion being a chief cause of the critically endangered status of a carnivore is the reduction in habitat for the African wild dog, Lycaon pictus.
Deforestation is also the reason for loss of a natural habitat, with large numbers of trees being cut down for residential and commercial use. Urban growth has become a problem for forests and agriculture, the expansion of structures prevents natural resources from producing in their environment. In order to prevent the loss of wildlife the forests must maintain a stable climate and the land must remain unaffected by development. Furthermore, forests can be sustained by different forest management techniques such as reforestation and preservation. Reforestation is a reactive approach designed to replant trees that were previously logged within the forest boundary in attempts to re-stabilize this ecosystem. Preservation on the other hand is a proactive idea that promotes the concept of leaving the forest as is, without using this area for its ecosystem goods and services. Both of these methods to mitigate deforestation are being used throughout the world.
The U.S. Forest service predicts that urban and developing terrain in the U.S. will expand by 41 percent in the year 2060. These conditions cause displacement for the wildlife and limited resources for the environment to maintain a sustainable balance.
Traditionally, earth system modeling has been used to analyze forests for climate projections. However, in recent years there has been a shift away from this modeling towards more of mitigation and adaptation projections. These projections can give researchers a better understanding of how to what future forest management practices should be employed. Furthermore, this new approach to modeling also allows for land management practices to be analyzed in the model. Such land management practices can be: forest harvest, tree species selection, grazing, and crop harvest. These land management practices are implemented to understand their biophysical and biogeochemical effects on the forest. However, there is a major lack of available data for these practices currently, so there needs to be further monitoring and data collecting to help improve the accuracy of the models.
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