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Title: A Synthesis of Land Use/Land Cover Studies: Definitions, Classification Systems, Meta-Studies, Challenges and Knowledge Gaps on a Global Landscape
Land is a natural resource that humans have utilized for life and various activities. Land use/land cover change (LULCC) has been of great concern to many countries over the years. Some of the main reasons behind LULCC are rapid population growth, migration, and the conversion of rural to urban areas. LULC has a considerable impact on the land-atmosphere/climate interactions. Over the past two decades, numerous studies conducted in LULC have investigated various areas of the field of LULC. However, the assemblage of information is missing for some aspects. Therefore, to provide coherent guidance, a literature review to scrutinize and evaluate many studies in particular topical areas is employed. This research study collected approximately four hundred research articles and investigated five (5) areas of interest, including (1) LULC definitions; (2) classification systems used to classify LULC globally; (3) direct and indirect changes of meta-studies associated with LULC; (4) challenges associated with LULC; and (5) LULC knowledge gaps. The synthesis revealed that LULC definitions carried vital terms, and classification systems for LULC are at the national, regional, and global scales. Most meta-studies for LULC were in the categories of direct and indirect land changes. Additionally, the analysis showed significant areas of LULC challenges were data consistency and quality. The knowledge gaps highlighted a fall in the categories of ecosystem services, forestry, and data/image modeling in LULC. Core findings exhibit common patterns, discrepancies, and relationships from the multiple studies. While literature review as a tool showed similarities among various research studies, our results recommend researchers endeavor to perform further synthesis in the field of LULC to promote our overall understanding, since research investigations will continue in LULC.  more » « less
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