LandCover6k is an international and interdisciplinary working group dedicated to reconstructing land cover and land use across the Holocene. The initial goal of this effort is to critically evaluate and improve models of anthropogenic land cover change now being employed by climate scientists.
This work is urgently needed. Current climate models make little use of the vast repository of evidence about human history, despite the awareness that humans are one agent of global change. Although land cover changes are currently incorporated into climate models, land cover data need to be complied and improved. Vegetation is known to change in response to many factors, including human land use, but the complex and variable relationships between land use and land cover are still insufficiently understood.
Differing assumptions about these relationships have led to significant differences between models of anthropogenic land cover change, highlighting a critical shortcoming. This shortcoming has immediate and critical scientific and policy implications for work on global climate. However, the development of more accurate and complete historical land use and land cover maps will also support and fuel research into a wide variety of fields and thus are of interest well beyond the community of climate scholars.