How We Work

GLP is an open community where all scientists, practitioners and policy makers interested and involved in land system change can participate and contribute. GLP has the objective to continuously engage new participants to share experiences and contribute to its overarching goals. As land systems require an inter- and transdisciplinary approach all participants are encouraged to initiate and undertake  activities that strengthen the knowledge and practice of land systems to contribute to a sustainable management of land resources.

What are land systems?

Land systems constitute the terrestrial component of the Earth system and encompass all processes and activities related to the human use of land, including socioeconomic, technological and organizational investments and arrangements, as well as the benefits gained from land and the unintended social and ecological outcomes of societal activities (Verburg et al., 2013). Changes  in land systems have large consequences for the local environment and human well-being and are at the same time pervasive factors of global environmental change. Land provides vital resources to society, such as food, fuel, fibres and many other ecosystem services that support production functions, regulate risks of natural hazards, or provide cultural and spiritual services.  By using the land, society alters and modifies the quantity and quality of the provision of these services.

Land system changes are the direct result of human decision making at multiple scales ranging from local land owners decisions to national scale land use planning and global trade agreements. The aggregate impact of many local land system changes has far reaching consequences for the Earth System, that feedback on ecosystem services, human well-being and decision making (Crossman et al., 2013). As a consequence, land system change is both a cause and consequence of socio-ecological processes.

Activities of GLP

GLP activities


Open science meetings

GLP aims to organize Open Science Meetings for the entire GLP community every 2 to 4 years. Among the goals of Open Science Meetings are to be a place where the GLP community can exchange progress on science, to be inspired by debates on advances and the links between science, policy and practice, and  to forge contacts with other GLP community members.

Regional science meetings

Regional science meetings may be organized by the Nodal offices or by other community members from within the region (forming a working group to organize such a meeting). The objectives are similar to those of the Open Science Meetings but focused on a specific region. Regional science meetings are developed in consultation with the GLP IPO.

Synthesis and agenda setting workshops

Synthesis and agenda setting workshops are activities centered on a specific objective that contributes to the advancement of land system science. Typical outputs of synthesis workshops are high-level scientific papers or meta-studies and theoretical contributions to land system science. Synthesis workshops can be proposed and organized by the IPO, SSC members, and nodal offices, as well as regular GLP community members, in coordination with IPO and SSC. Where relevant to GLP, workshops may be labelled as ‘GLP endorsed workshops’ in consultation with the IPO. Requests for assistance in the organization of such workshops by the IPO or SSC members may be made. For more information on organizing a GLP endorsed workshop contact the IPO.

Tool development and data platforms

Software, databases, apps or other tools that may be useful to the GLP community may be developed under endorsement of GLP (examples include the GLOBE case-study collection tool and the Geo-Wiki crowdsourcing  tool). Letter of support can be issued from the IPO when applying for projects aiming to develop such tools that would become available for the larger community. GLP community members are invited to link tools and data of use to the larger community to the webpage.

Supporting land system research projects

Although GLP no longer provides official endorsement of individual research projects, the IPO will issue letters of support for project applications stating that ‘the proposed research addresses the priority issues identified in the GLP science plan’. Individual applicants can contact the IPO for such a letter by indicating how the project will contribute to GLP and what activities/data/results will be made available to the GLP community during the project. For more information contact the IPO and/or consult the science plan.

Supporting the sharing and availability of Land System datasets

GLP acknowledges the importance of sharing data on land systems, including data on underlying  drivers and impacts of land system change. Therefore, (links to) new datasets may be announced in the digital newsletter or on the website. GLP supports an open sharing strategy of data and research tools and will strongly promote the open availability of data and software.


GLP produces monthly digital newsletters ‘E-News’ that contain announcements of GLP community relevant activities (such as conferences and workshops), relevant vacancies and may also highlight publications. Consult the Science Plan for more information on policies for highlighting publications.