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Land Use History of North America

The Land Use History of North America (LUHNA) is no longer an active USGS research project.
This web site serves as an archive to maintain the visibility of the important work done by the LUHNA project team.
Table of Contents LUHNA Program Project History LINKS Contact Us
Clues from the Past about our Future

Expanding Agriculture and Population

Night Lights and Urbanization

Patterns in Plant Diversity

Baltimore-Washington Urbanization

Great Lakes Landscape Change

Upper Mississippi River Vegetation

Greater Yellowstone Biodiversity

Southwestern US Paleoecology

Palouse Bioregion Land Use History

Northeastern Forest Dynamics


Land Use History of the Colorado Plateau

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The LUHNA Book!

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Our co-sponsor

Earth is a dynamic planet. As we come to appreciate its history and the long-term trends that have shaped the present, we realize that continuous change characterizes the planet, from the movement of continents to changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Perhaps nowhere is change more obvious that on the planet's surface, where human land use shapes landscapes, alters ecosystems, and influences the diversity of life they support. Yet an appreciation of changing land cover and land use poses a host of questions that are difficult to answer: What types of changes are occurring now, and how fast are they occurring? How do these changes compare with those in the past, and what does it all mean for future environmental quality and the habitability of the planet?

This web site addresses some of these questions for several regions of North America. More importantly, it strives to convey the importance of a historical context for understanding ongoing changes in land cover and land use. Each section has been written by researchers for the non-specialist and reviewed independently by peer scientists. The contributors hope that the long-term perspective presented here will provide a context for assessing environmental conditions, interpreting current trends, and making more informed policy and management decisions for the future.

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URL: http://landcover.usgs.gov/luhna/
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Page Last Modified: December 2012