Journal cover Journal topic
Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 927-953, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
01 Dec 2017
Anthropogenic land use estimates for the Holocene – HYDE 3.2
Kees Klein Goldewijk1,3, Arthur Beusen2,3, Jonathan Doelman3, and Elke Stehfest3 1Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, P.O. Box 80115, the Netherlands
2Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, P.O. Box 80115, the Netherlands
3PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, the Netherlands
Abstract. This paper presents an update and extension of HYDE, the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE version 3.2). HYDE is an internally consistent combination of historical population estimates and allocation algorithms with time-dependent weighting maps for land use. Categories include cropland, with new distinctions for irrigated and rain-fed crops (other than rice) and irrigated and rain-fed rice. Grazing lands are also provided, divided into more intensively used pasture and less intensively used rangeland, and further specified with respect to conversion of natural vegetation to facilitate global change modellers. Population is represented by maps of total, urban, rural population, population density and built-up area. The period covered is 10 000 before Common Era (BCE) to 2015 Common Era (CE). All data can be downloaded from

We estimate that global population increased from 4.4 million people (we also estimate a lower range  <  0.01 and an upper range of 8.9 million) in 10 000 BCE to 7.257 billion in 2015 CE, resulting in a global population density increase from 0.03 persons (or capita, in short cap) km−2 (range 0–0.07) to almost 56 cap km−2 respectively. The urban built-up area evolved from almost zero to roughly 58 Mha in 2015 CE, still only less than 0.5 % of the total land surface of the globe.

Cropland occupied approximately less than 1 % of the global land area (13 037 Mha, excluding Antarctica) for a long time period until 1 CE, quite similar to the grazing land area. In the following centuries the share of global cropland slowly grew to 2.2 % in 1700 CE (ca. 293 Mha, uncertainty range 220–367 Mha), 4.4 % in 1850 CE (578 Mha, range 522–637 Mha) and 12.2 % in 2015 CE (ca. 1591 Mha, range 1572–1604 Mha). Cropland can be further divided into rain-fed and irrigated land, and these categories can be further separated into rice and non-rice. Rain-fed croplands were much more common, with 2.2 % in 1700 CE (289 Mha, range 217–361 Mha), 4.2 % (549 Mha, range 496–606 Mha) in 1850 CE and 10.1 % (1316 Mha, range 1298–1325 Mha) in 2015 CE, while irrigated croplands used less than 0.05 % (4.3 Mha, range 3.1–5.5 Mha), 0.2 % (28 Mha, range 25–31 Mha) and 2.1 % (277 Mha, range 273–278 Mha) in 1700, 1850 and 2015 CE, respectively. We estimate the irrigated rice area (paddy) to be 0.1 % (13 Mha, range 9–16 Mha) in 1700 CE, 0.2 % (28 Mha, range 26–31 Mha) in 1850 CE and 0.9 % (118 Mha, range 117–120 Mha) in 2015 CE.

The estimates for land used for grazing are much more uncertain. We estimate that the share of grazing land grew from 5.1 % in 1700 CE (667 Mha, range 507–820 Mha) to 9.6 % in 1850 CE (1192 Mha, range 1068–1304 Mha) and 24.9 % in 2015 CE (3241 Mha, range 3211–3270 Mha). To aid the modelling community we have divided land used for grazing into more intensively used pasture, less intensively used converted rangeland and less or unmanaged natural unconverted rangeland. Pasture occupied 1.1 % in 1700 CE (145 Mha, range 79–175 Mha), 1.9 % in 1850 CE (253 Mha, range 218–287 Mha) and 6.0 % (787 Mha, range 779–795 Mha) in 2015 CE, while rangelands usually occupied more space due to their occurrence in more arid regions and thus lower yields to sustain livestock. We estimate converted rangeland at 0.6 % in 1700 CE (82 Mha range 66–93 Mha), 1 % in 1850 CE (129 Mha range 118–136 Mha) and 2.4 % in 2015 CE (310 Mha range 306–312 Mha), while the unconverted natural rangelands occupied approximately 3.4 % in 1700 CE (437 Mha, range 334–533 Mha), 6.2 % in 1850 CE (810 Mha, range 733–881 Mha) and 16.5 % in 2015 CE (2145 Mha, range 2126–2164 Mha).

Citation: Klein Goldewijk, K., Beusen, A., Doelman, J., and Stehfest, E.: Anthropogenic land use estimates for the Holocene – HYDE 3.2, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 927-953,, 2017.
Short summary
This is an update of HYDE, which is an internally consistent combination of historical population estimates and time-dependent land use allocation algorithms for 10 000 BCE–2015 CE. Categories include cropland, separated into irrigated and rain-fed rice and non-rice crops. Grazing lands are divided into more intensely used pasture and less intensively used rangelands. Population includes total, urban, and rural population and population density and built-up area.
This is an update of HYDE, which is an internally consistent combination of historical...