Lepers, E., E.F. Lambin, A.C. Janetos, R. DeFries, F. Achard, N. Ramankutty and R.J. Scholes (2005). A synthesis of information on rapid land-cover change for the period 1981-2000. BioScience, 55 (2), 115-124
The paper presents a synthesis of what is known about areas of rapid land-cover change around the world over the past two decades, which is critical to evaluate how the provision of ecosystem goods and services has changed. The study was based on a compilation of existing global, regional and sub-regional studies based on remote sensing, census and expert opnion data. Preliminary results were improved through a workshop and an extensive consultation througout the scientific community. This project revealed that rapid land cover change is clustered in some locations. Asia currently has the greatest concentration of areas of rapid land-cover changes, and in particular desertification. The Amazon Basin remains a major hot spot of tropical deforestation. Rapid cropland increase, often associated with large-scale deforestation, is prominent in Southeast Asia. Forest degradation in Siberia, mostly related to logging activities, is increasing rapidly. The southeastern US and eastern China experience rapid cropland decrease. Existing data do not support the claim of the African Sahel being a desertification hot spot. Many of the most populated and rapidly changing cities are found in the tropics. Many parts of the world are not adequately represented in the available data sets. The study identifies priorities for future observations on land-cover change.