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Learning from 12,000 Years of Land Use: How to Shape a Better Future for Life on Earth
July 20, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Featured in the Smithsonian Magazine as a top discovery of 2021, UMBC’s Erle Ellis along with an interdisciplinary research team that most notably includes scholars of Indigenous knowledge have found that humans have been shaping the earth for much longer than previously thought. The global maps created by this team shows that even 12,000 years ago, nearly three-quarters of earth’s land was inhabited, used, and shaped by people and areas untouched by people were almost as rare 12,000 years ago as they are today.
The current biodiversity crisis is often depicted as a struggle to preserve untouched habitats, but global land use history confirms that empowering Indigenous peoples and local communities is critical to conserve biodiversity across the planet.
Bio: Erle Ellis’ research investigates the ecology of human-managed ecosystems at local and global scales towards the goal of informing sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. His current work focuses on human transformation and sustainable stewardship of the biosphere. Past projects have developed tools for global synthesis of local knowledge, inexpensive tools for measuring and managing ecological change across anthropogenic landscapes, and long-term ecological changes across China’s village landscapes. He teaches courses in environmental science and landscape ecology at UMBC.