Defining "surplus" land

Rachel Nuwer reports on a new peer-review paper that attempts to standardize the definition of “surplus” land, including land called marginal, reclaimed, degraded, abandoned, and more. Such areas are often considered ripe for biofuel crops as they are no longer producing food.

Unfortunately, there’s no mention in Nuwer’s article or the academic paper of an important question—when is land “surplus” and when should it be rehabilitated as its native ecosystem? Just because we pressed land into service once doesn’t mean it should always remain in production.

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