Sustainability Column: Sustainable Land Management

Ethan Reiser, Maroon-News Staff

Sustainable land management is vital to the survival of ecosystems and productivity. It deals with a combination of agricultural practices, environment and ecosystems, as well as other human practices. Pressures on the environment are consistently being created through different human sources like human agriculture, an expanding urban environment and the degradation of soil quality. There are also pressures through natural processes as well as wildfires, weathering and climate change. Practices like increasing efficiency through producing more while using fewer resources will be vital to the survival of our lands and agriculture, particularly when it comes to our food security.

It is estimated that the Earth will soon need to feed roughly nine billion people, and yet there will only be slight increases in available land. While some deforestation and other land production methods are occurring, it is shown that an increase in land efficiency and sustainability will be required in order to meet the needs of a growing human population. It is arguable that land degradation, climate change and food security are three of the most important challenges that currently face the human race and the health of the planet. It is no coincidence that sustainable land management is an important factor of all three.

The adoption of good practices are essential to sustainable land management. However, it is common for these practices to be avoided at times because of the different social and economic aspects that their implementation entails. Some of these practices include more efficient water use, an improvement of soil fertility and a use of quality plant species. A better understanding of land degradation and its processes can be of vital importance in determining more sustainable land practices. Lastly, educational programs can be used to teach more sustainable land practices, so long as they take into account the barriers that some might meet when trying to implement these practices, such as socioeconomic barriers.

While there is a lot that goes into sustainable land management, its potential benefits are enormous. There is an increased production of viable food, as well as a reduced vulnerability of agriculture and forest ecosystems to human related impacts such as climate change. There is also reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as an increase in carbon sequestration and the conservation of biodiversity and landscapes.

It is clear that sustainable land management is of vital importance for not only the health of the planet, but also for the health and well being of people worldwide. From the rapid rate of growth of the human population to the effects that unsustainable land management has on food security and climate change, sustainable land management is at the forefront of importance. There can be no doubt that more sustainable land management is something that must become a reality, not only here, but around the globe.

Contact Ethan Reiser at [email protected].