How landscape ecology informs global land-change science and policy
Landscape ecology is a discipline that explicitly considers the influence of time and space on the environmental patterns we observe and the processes that create them. Although many of the topics studied in landscape ecology have public policy implications, three are of particular concern: climate change; land use–land cover change (LULCC); and a particular type of LULCC, urbanization. These processes are interrelated, because LULCC is driven by both human activities (e.g., agricultural expansion and urban sprawl) and climate change (e.g., desertification). Climate change, in turn, will affect the way humans use landscapes. Interactions among these drivers of ecosystem change can have destabilizing and accelerating feedback, with consequences for human societies from local to global scales. These challenges require landscape ecologists to engage policymakers and practitioners in seeking long-term solutions, informed by an understanding of opportunities to mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic drivers on ecosystems and adapt to new ecological realities.