To implement appropriate land management strategies, it is essential to identify past and current land cover and land use conditions. In addition, an assessment of land development phases (LDPs) in a human-dominated landscape coupled with an analysis of the water-food-ecosystem (WFE) nexus can deepen our understanding of sustainable land management. In this study, we proposed the concept of land development phases (LDPs) by forest and GDP changes using previously-applied theoretical and empirical approaches. The positive relationship between GDP growth and forest stock changes was used to analyze the timing of forest stock changes as five-year averages, which were aggregated over 20 years to classify LDPs. In addition, forest area changes compared with GDP and GDP per capita changes were analyzed to identify LDPs. Based on two conceptual approaches, we suggested global land into three LDPs: degradation, restoration and sustainability. Using this approach, most of Europe, North America and northeast Asia were classified as sustainability phases, while Africa and Central Asia in the Mid-Latitude region appeared to have degradation or restoration phases. The LDPs described could be improved with further incorporation of solid data analysis and clear standards, but even at this stage, these LDP classifications suggest points for implementing appropriate land management. In addition, indices from comparative analysis of the LDPs with the WFE nexus can be connected with socio-economic global indices, such as the Global Hunger Index, the Food Production Index and the Climate Change Performance Index. The LDPs have the potential to facilitate appropriate land management strategies through integrating WFE nexus and ecosystem services; we propose future research that uses this integration for the Mid-Latitude region and worldwide.
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