Land Resources

Land use

What is Land Use

"Land use is characterised by the arrangements, activities and inputs people undertake in a certain land cover type to produce, change or maintain it" (FAO/UNEP, 1999) (Adopted during the course of development of the Land Cover Classification System, LCCS). A more inclusive definition of land-use is often used in practice. 'Land use' actually includes near-surface water (see the definition of land). Any given area of land is usually used to satisfy multiple objectives or purposes.

Land use information provides answers to one or more of the following questions concerning the current use of the land

• What: the purpose of activities undertaken - e.g. the specific products and services, that are sought
• Where: the geographic location and extent of the spatial unit under consideration
• When: the temporal aspects of various activities undertaken - e.g. the sequence of carried out operations like planting, weeding, etc..
• How: the technologies employed - e.g. technological inputs/ materials such as fertilizer, irrigation, labor, etc..
• How much: quantitative measures - e.g. areas, products
• Why: the reasons underlying the current land use – e.g. land tenure, labour costs, market conditions, etc..

Agricultural land-use data are important for many of the regional to global activities currently undertaken by FAO (e.g. the validation of agricultural land evaluation; the preparation of perspective studies on agricultural production and food security; early warning for food security; natural disaster relief operations; farming systems studies; policy formulation). Thus, knowledge of current land use (& land resources) is needed for formulating changes leading to sustainable use of the resources.

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