This issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability provides an overview of recent advances in Land System Science while at the same time setting the research agenda for the Land System Science community. Land System Science is not just representing land system changes as either a driver or a consequence of global environmental change. Land systems also offer solutions to global change through adaptation and mitigation and can play a key role in achieving a sustainable future earth. The special issue assembles 14 articles that entail different perspectives on land systems and their dynamics, synthesizing current knowledge, highlighting currently under-researched topics, exploring scientific frontiers and suggesting ways ahead, integrating a plethora of scientific disciplines. © 2013 The Authors.