The Centre for Research on Land-use Sustainability was founded on 2008 with the aim to strengthen the research and understanding on land-use, and to work in the field level in order to secure integrated and wise use(s) of land for the betterment of human and nature in context where management of limited land for meeting escalating human needs becoming a great challenge. Currently, the centre focuses on building a web-based virtual platform for research, consultancy, knowledge sharing and developing decision-making tools for sustainable land-use and related aspects. The centre also tries to bridge the prevailing gaps between science, policy, and practice in land-use decisions to minimize the disparities and conflicts lied in there.
The centre focuses on three 'E' in the case of land-use, the first one stands for 'Ethics in land use' - to secure the well-being of people who rely on nature for their life and livings, as well as to ensure the availability of resource for future generations, the second 'E' stands for 'Ecology in land-use'- which determine the use of land for nature and conservation, and to ensure sustainable supply of key environmental services, and the third one stands for 'Economic' aspects of land-use, i.e. ensure the optimum financial gain from land-use without compromising with the first two 'E'.
Additionally, producing adequate food to feed a growing world population, while conserving tropical forests and the ecological services they are providing will be one of the greatest challenges of this century. The centre therefore also aiming to find out an acceptable trade-off between agriculture production and alteration of forest and other less modified land-use(s) and to link research into policies that ultimately determine the land-use decision in field level.
Research, impacts and collaboration
Since it's establishment on 2008 the centre enjoyed an annual minimal budget of 30K USD for research and development on land-use related issues, and expect to raise its annual minimal budget to 0.75 million USD in near future. Past field research covered land-use related issues in Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines and in Malaysia. The centre, in the coming days wish to extend its' research and partnership in south-east Asia (in collaboration with Centre for International Forestry Research; CIFOR, Indonesia), Latin America (in collaboration with Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center; CATIE, Costa Rica) and in Africa (in collaboration with World Agroforestry Centre; ICRAF, Kenya). Centre's published research includes - 20 peer-reviewed articles and 9 technical reports and presentations at conferences. Ongoing projects include a book on land-use case studies and best practices (Earthscan and Routledge, London), a conceptual paper and meta-analysis on global land-use scenarios, challenges and solutions (Science magazine), and an online interactive tool for land-use decision incorporating ethical, biophysical and economic factors. The centre also working on a curricula development for an international research masters program on Sustainable land-use practices and management in collaboration with research/academic institutes based at Australia (Queensland), USA (Hawaii), Japan (Kyoto) and Bangladesh. The centre also shares overlapping research interest and ideas with the following organizations/institutes:
South Asia is using 94 percent of its potentially arable land. In contrast, in sub-Saharan Africa only 22 percent of potentially arable land is under use.
Expansion in the area of land used to cultivated food crops between 1960 and 2010: 12 percent.
The total world land area suitable for cropping is at 4.4 billion hectares.
Total land area that is currently being cultivated (rainfed+ irrigated): 1.6 billion hectares.
The average hectares of cultivated land needed to feed one person in 2006 was 0.22 hectares (compared to 0.45 hectares on 1961).
Share of world land sources that are degraded: 25 percent, with another 10 percent land that is improving.
Between 1990 and 2010, the amount of forest land designated primarily for the conservation of biological diversity increased by 35 percent, that accounts 12 percent of the world's present coverage.
Percentage of the world's land area that is covered by low income countries: 22 percent.
The average availability of cultivated land per capita in low-income countries (0.017 hectares) is less than half that of high-income countries (0.37 hectares) and the suitability of cultivated land for cropping is generally lower.
Between 1974 and 2010 the area cultivated considering conservation issues grew from just under 3 million to hectares to more than 117 million hectares.
Figures: 1. transitions of global land-use in a historical scale (source: DeFries et al. 2004); 2. the ethical, ecological and economic interface of land-use change (source: Mukul et al., in prep.)