Our World in Data. This left only 45% as ‘natural’ or ‘semi-natural’ land. The noticeable shrinkage in the extent of cropland as a function of the Crop Production index since 1990 provides encouragement that farmers will continue sparing land.’. Land use in Asia– both in South and East Asia is lowest (5-6 times less than in North America). For most countries, land dedicated to cropland is typically below 20 percent, with many countries dedicating less than 10 percent. Most of this growth is projected to result from developing countries, meanwhile arable land use in developed countries is likely to continue its decline. Table 4. If we extend our land coverage above from arable land use to total agricultural land (which is the sum of arable, permanent crops and pastures and meadows), we still see overall declines in land per person but with different rates and patterns of reduction. With solutions from both consumers and producers, we have an important opportunity to restore some of this farmland back to forests and natural habitats. This entry can be cited as: Our World in Data is free and accessible for everyone. Help us do this work by making a donation. If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. The number of species evaluated and threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List is available from their summary statistics found here. Crop yields have increased significantly in recent decades, meaning we have spared a lot of land from agricultural production: globally, to produce the same amount of crops as in 1961, we need only 30% of the farmland. Note that species can have multiple threats; this therefore does not mean agriculture was the only threat for such species. We use roughly half of global habitable land for agriculture. The visualisation shows human land use over the long-term (since 10,000 BC), and details the change in total land used for cropland, grazing land and built-up/urban area in hectares. 10% of the world is covered by glaciers, and a further 19% is barren land – deserts, dry salt flats, beaches, sand dunes, and exposed rocks.1 This leaves what we call ‘habitable land’. Help us do this work by making a donation. Animal products therefore accounted for [32 / (32 + 49) * 100] = 39% of the world’s protein. India, Bangladesh, Ukraine and Denmark all dedicated more than half of total land area to cropland in 2015. ‘Barren land’ refers to land cover in which less than one-third of the area has vegetation or other cover; barren land typically has thin soil, sand or rocks and includes deserts, dry salt flats, beaches, sand dunes, and exposed rocks. In the chart here we see the global area of land use in agriculture by major crop types, from 1961 to 2014. Add country In the map here we see the share of total (both habitable and non-habitable) land area used for agriculture. These estimates come from a range of sources, including the UN FAO, OECD and Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). This left only 45% as ‘natural’ or ‘semi-natural’ land. This includes 431.1 million acres of cropland, 396.9 million acres of pasture, and 71.5 million acres of forests. The major uncertainties – and explanation for discrepancies – in these assessments is the allocation of ‘rangelands’: in some regions it can be difficult to accurately quantify how much of rangelands are used for grazing, and how much is free from human pressure. This leaves only 37% for forests; 11% as shrubs and grasslands; 1% as freshwater coverage; and the remaining 1% – a much smaller share than many suspect – is built-up urban area which includes cities, towns, villages, roads and other human infrastructure. For most countries, as we will show in the section below, land use for livestock grazing is dominant relative to arable farming. If we rewind 1000 years, it is estimated that only 4 million square kilometers – less than 4% of the world’s ice-free and non-barren land area was used for farming. In the chart here we have plotted this ‘peak and decline’ projection but have extended actual land use trends through to the year 2014. If we view the map in “chart” mode, we see how the allocation of land to agriculture has changed over time across the global regions. We license all charts under Creative Commons BY.

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