On Spreading Good Land-Use Practices that Improve People’s Livelihoods

GLF 2017 Blog Competition
Tinka George William

A landscape can be looked at as a framing space where you find all the necessary resources that people can tap into in order to respond to and achieve their needs daily. Water, soil, trees, are some of the biophysical aspect of these resources that can sustain the livelihoods of people. A good landscape approach that improves livelihoods of people by supporting human health and wealth must also be sustainable. However, we find ourselves having to increase the supply that comes from these biophysical elements. For example, with the ever increasing human population, we find ourselves having to cut down trees in order to get land for cultivation of both food crops and cash crops, or building factories in wetlands and swamps and erasing these from maps in order to create employment opportunities for our sons and daughters that will work in these factories. But these have consequences in the long run. For example, you cannot do agriculture with soils that have been subjected to erosion (due to bad agriculture practices) and are therefore infertile, you can also not enjoy clean water if you are going to let factories pour wastes into and pollute water bodies. Clearly, different land use practices have direct effects on livelihoods of communities in terms of wealth and health. We need to find ways to make land use sustainable so that we do not do things that are counterproductive. In defining landscape itself, two important aspects come into play aside from us looking at it as a geographical area: the biophysical element and the cultural values of the locals that relate to landscape use. This is because different communities manage their landscapes differently. These two aspects have to be well appreciated in order to understand the interrelationship between human beings and nature in order to suggest some strategies for sustainable production, or strategies for landscape rehabilitation- if they are degraded, or conservation processes that can help their communities to meet their needs based on the natural resources. The private sector, non-government organizations, and governments must work towards achieving development sustainably with respect to land resources. This can be by using the relevant science, partnerships and networks to make sure that the different concepts of sustainable land use and management are delivered to and respond to the needs of policy makers and the communities on ground. Negotiations among these parties should also be speeded up. Work should start moving on the ground rather than waiting for the relatively slow negotiations that will set up different frameworks. Best practices like climate risk management, reducing wastes in food systems among others should be scaled up already on the ground using the currently available resources. The different big bodies of knowledge like the different academies around the world, and different innovators should also be brought together to set a firework for the development of sustainable science and other forms of knowledge and skills that respond to the development needs of communities and societies to make sure that we are not destroying the environment while achieving our goals. These institutions should not work separately. Scientists in laboratories for example should find tailor-made solutions to needs on ground by working together with stakeholders, policy makers, and communities- not working alone. This way, capacities will be built for these people to also have the relevant knowledge from which they can make decisions. Otherwise, the bridge which may exist between science and development will never happen. In conclusion, landscape approaches directly affect the livelihoods of people in their societies. The different forces that are working towards achieving sustainability in landscape approaches should appreciate the biophysical and the cultural value elements of landscape approaches if they are to drive changes towards a positive direction. Partnerships among different stakeholders are key but they should ensure that they are not slow in resolving different issues, but should concentrate on scaling up best practices on ground. Different stakeholders, especially those close to the people on ground, and the ground man himself should not be left out in the process of developing the different sustainable solutions.

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