By Eduardo S. Brondizio In a world increasingly thought of as overpopulated, sparsely populated spaces remain a dominant feature: ~57% of Asia, ~81% of North America, and ~94% of Australia have population densities below 1 person per square kilometer, equivalent to the population density of most of the Sahara desert (1). These vast, sparsely populated landscapes include rural settlements, towns, agricultural spaces, extractive economies, indigenous lands, and conservation areas. They are crucial for climate change adaptation and mitigation, from carbon sequestration to provisioning of water, food, and energy to cities. Yet governmental and nongovernmental initiatives tend to mostly pay lip service to the diverse views and needs of their populations. Without more inclusive governance, attempts to mitigate and adapt to climate change and conserve ecosystems will be compromised.
Authors: Eduardo S. Brondizio, Francois-Michel Le Tourneau