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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


November-December 2010

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What is land for? The food, fuel and climate change debate, edited by Michael Winter and Matt Lobley, London: Earthscan, 2009.

Changes in the use of the land have been important drivers of climate change. It is expected that in the future climate change itself will affect the way humans use the land, compelling them to manage it in a different way in order to adapt or mitigate the undesirable effects of climate change on society. In this regard, the increasing competition in the use of land for food, the production of biomass for biofuels, or the management of soils for carbon storage requires policies not only based on our knowledge of the global drivers of change but also informed by deep understanding of local land use trends, recognition of the multiple functions of the landscape, property rights systems, and expected behavioral changes of consumers.

This book, edited by Michael Winter and Matt Lobley, collects 12 chapters containing contributions from a range of scientific disciplines examining new uses of the land, technologies, policies, tools, and capacities, as well as emerging issues and new perspectives such as regulation of land-use technologies, landscape creation, and ethical approaches in land-use decisionmaking. The book is focused on a series of cases studies in the United Kingdom, so most of the conclusions and policy implications have limited application elsewhere; however, the topics of many chapters, such as strategic land use, energy crops, environmental services, and management of land and water, are interesting from an international perspective.

What Is Land For? contributes to the new land-use debate by establishing a baseline of evidence and ideas about what we know and what we need to know about the land for the survival of humans as species on a changing planet.

Luis C. Rodriguez, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Queensland, Australia.

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