How Much Will Feeding
More and Wealthier
People Encroach on

Paul E. Waggoner
Jesse H. Ausubel

Population and Development Review 27(2):239-257 (June 2001)

PDF version of this paper encroach_waggonerausubel.pdf

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Forests have recently expanded in many countries. The success of the world, including both rich and poor, in following this trend depends on future changes in population, income per capita, appetite, and crop yields. Extended to the year 2050, the strengths of these forces, estimated from experience, project cropland shrinking by nearly 200 million hectares, more than three times the land area of France. Changes in some of these forces, with crop yield the most manageable, could double the shrinkage. Reasonable assumptions about the forces can also make the distribution of spared land between rich and poor countries roughly equal. Although the encroachment factor translating cropland change into forest land change varies greatly, one-third or more of the cropland spared could become forest.

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