If current trends of declining fertility rates and increasing abandonment of rural land as a result of urbanization continue, this will signal a globally significant transformation with important consequences for policy makers interested in conservation planning. This transformation is presently evident in a number of countries and projections suggest it may occur in the future in many developing countries. We use rates of population growth and urbanization to project population trends in rural areas for 25 example countries. Our projections indicate a general decline in population density that has either occurred already (e.g., Mexico) or may occur in the future if current trends continue (e.g., Uganda). Using both temperate and tropical examples we present evidence that this process will lead to ecological homogenization as a dominant habitat (e.g., forest replaces a mosaic of human maintained landscapes), resulting in declines in biodiversity at the local scale. Building on this information, we consider research programs that need to be conducted so that policy makers are prepared to effectively manage depopulated rural areas.