Authors: Antonio Gómez Sal and Asunción Saldaña-López
Changes in land use are leading to a global polarization process. On the one hand, the urbanization trend does not stop: more than 55% of people are city dwellers and large cities are becoming the most evident manifestation of global change. On the other hand, the declaration of protected natural areas is increasing, with a general target of covering 20% of the land in each country. Between both extremes lies a vast space that often lacks clear development goals and adequate planning. Trends range from abandonment and depopulation to super-intensive agriculture. Within it there is a growing tendency for human uses to decouple from land conditions and dynamics, thus increasing exposure to risks caused by natural and anthropic events. This is also the space where competition between high-impact uses (e.g., energy, intensive agriculture) and (agro)biodiversity-based development (i.e., cultural landscapes, not urban life options) is being raised. Therefore, there is a need for planning and clear development goals.
The objective of this special issue is to analyze the trends taking place in this in-between space of uncertain destiny, to identify win-win actions and policies already underway and offer a set of considerations to drive changes towards sustainability and human wellbeing goals.
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