Research Topic

Rural Land Change and the Capacity for Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Production in North America

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About this Research Topic

Rural landscapes across the globe are vital to the production of food, timber, energy, and other resources for an increasing human population. They are also essential for sustaining natural habitat and improving ecosystem health for future generations. Accordingly, the challenge for humanity is to advance ...

Rural landscapes across the globe are vital to the production of food, timber, energy, and other resources for an increasing human population. They are also essential for sustaining natural habitat and improving ecosystem health for future generations. Accordingly, the challenge for humanity is to advance global production systems while also conserving and even enhancing natural land cover and ecosystem services. In North America production systems are differentiated from global systems with a tendency to be more commercialized and larger scale, with less diversification within the enterprise.

This Research Topic emphasizes research and understanding of rural land change trends and the dynamics of land production and nature conservation in North America. Rural land use is characterized by agriculture, silviculture, and other resource-based dependencies of various intensity. They also include low-density human populations and a mix of natural, semi-natural, and anthropogenic vegetation cover. The dynamics of these rural land uses control a significant extent of North American land cover. What are the socioeconomic and environmental forces that interact to cause rural land use systems to change and intensify? As urban areas expand and production systems intensify and change, what are the trends and dynamics of rural land cover and conservation?

Developing a better understanding of human-environment dynamics in agricultural and other rural landscapes is critical to strategies for balancing human needs with ecosystem conservation in North America. Emerging research emphasizes that land use and nature can and should co-exist in sustainable ways that provide for people as well as for healthy ecosystems. These issues are complicated by socioeconomic changes, globalization, government policies, and climate variability and change. Given these challenges, how can agricultural production systems be sustainable? What are the past dynamics and emerging prospects for sustaining both our productive land use systems and nature conservation in a globalized and changing world?

This Research Topic will focus on publishing research that explores insights into the variability of land use and land cover trends in North America, focusing especially upon the dynamics and ecosystem drivers of rural landscapes. The editors encourage submissions that explore: rural land change dynamics in the past, present and future; cross-disciplinary studies that focus on the dynamics of ecosystem services in agro-ecosystems including carbon and nutrient management, soil fertility, water quality and biodiversity conservation; and research that explores these topics considering climate change mitigation. The subject of sustainable intensification and the production of a safe food supply in the context of dynamic climatic and economic conditions is central to the theme of this Research Topic.


Keywords: Land-use change, landscape conservation, sustainability, agroforestry, agro-ecosystems


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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