Land use has generally been considered a local issue, but is becoming a force of global importance. Worldwide changes to land resources are driven by needs for food, fibre, water and shelter for six billion people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations and urban areas have expanded in recent decades, accompanied by increased energy, water and fertiliser consumption, and by biodiversity loss. These changes have increased human consumption of the planet’s resources, but undermine the capacity of ecosystems to sustain food production, maintain freshwater, regulate climate, and restrict infectious diseases. We face the challenge of managing trade-offs between immediate human needs and the long-term capacity of the biosphere to provide necessary goods and services.
Professor Jonathan Foley is the Director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of the Minnesota, where he also a Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.
Professor Foley's work focuses on complex global environmental systems and their interactions with human societies. He and his students have contributed to our understanding of large-scale ecosystem processes, global patterns of land use, the behavior of the planet's climate and water cycle, and the sustainability of our biosphere.
Professor Foley joined the University of Minnesota in 2008, after spending 15 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, where he founded the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE). He has won numerous awards and honors, including the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Award, the J.S. McDonnell Foundation's 21st Century Science Award, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, and the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America. In 1997, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.