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Open Space

  • By: Robert J. Mason
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Open space has many meanings, at multiple and overlapping spatial scales. Globally and regionally, it may refer to the extent and condition of significant biomes, such as tropical forests and deserts. A more limited definition would include only protected areas, such as parks and nature preserves. Worldwide, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 11.6% of the globe's terrestrial surface area is protected, though a great deal more of the world's land consists of vast areas of farmland, forest, desert, grassland, tundra, and snow and ice. Typically, though, the term open space applies to amenity-rich lands in industrialized countries and to a lesser degree to minimally developed lands in poorer countries. Often, these open spaces are in contested areas, where development pressures ...

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