A global analysis of land take in cropland areas and production displacement from urbanization
This article in the Global Environmental Change Journal analyses urban land take in cropland areas for the years 2000 and 2040, using a land systems approach. The results show that future urban expansion is primarily expected in areas that are also suitable and available for cropland. This suggests a continued competition for land between urban expansion and food production, which further limits our food production capacity. As urbanization typically prevails in this competition, this will likely yield a displacement of crop production to other areas. As of the year 2000, the hectares classified as urban land were 2.06% of the earth’s surface. In the year 2040, these figures increase to 4.72% of all the earth’s surface. The share of urban land take in cropland areas is highest in Europe, the Middle-East and Northern Africa, and China, while it is relatively low in Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2000 and 2040, urban growth caused the displacement of almost 65 Mton of crop production, which could yield an expansion of up to 35 Mha of new cropland. Land-use planning appears as an important measure to minimize further losses in crop production. It can influence both the location and the form of urbanization.