Foley & his fellow researchers discuss land use, specifically the conversion of natural landscapes, as a global issue. They argue that converting landscapes as they exist naturally is not merely a local environmental issue, rather, it has numerous impacts on the planet as a whole. Land use practices have significantly impacted the global carbon cycle, global climate―even the regional climate at times (Foley 570). The changes that humans have made and continue to make to natural landscapes have led to losses in biodiversity, shortages of resources, air quality problems, and various other issues. The researchers argue that “we face the challenge of managing trade-offs between immediate needs and maintaining the capacity of the biosphere to provide goods and services in the long term”; we run into problems as we face the issue of critical natural resources such as food, fiber, shelter, and freshwater (Foley 570).
In order to combat the negative effects brought on by human changes to natural landscapes, we must put sustainable land-use practices and policies into place; these practices include agricultural production per unit land area, per unit fertilizer input, per unit water consumed, increasing soil nutrients (organic matter), green spaces in urban areas, maintaining local biodiversity, etc (Foley 573) It is important that all of these practices consider short-term and long-term needs (573).