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Land

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


For other uses, see Land (disambiguation).
Land, sometimes referred to as dry land, is the solid surface of the Earth that is not
permanently covered by water.[1] The vast majority of human activity throughout
history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture, habitat, and various
natural resources. Some life forms (including terrestrial plants and terrestrial
animals) have developed from predecessor species that lived in bodies of water.
Areas where land meets large bodies of water are called coastal zones. The division
between land and water is a fundamental concept to humans. The demarcation
between land and water can vary by local jurisdiction and other factors. A maritime
boundary is one example of a political demarcation. A variety of natural boundaries
exist to help clearly define where water meets land. Solid rock landforms are easier
to demarcate than marshy or swampy boundaries, where there is no clear point at
which the land ends and a body of water has begun. Demarcation can further vary
due to tides and weather.
Etymology and terminology
The word 'land' is derived from Middle English land, lond and Old English land, lond
(earth, land, soil, ground; defined piece of land, territory, realm, province, district;
landed property; country (not town); ridge in a ploughed field), from ProtoGermanic *land (land), and from Proto-Indo-European *lend- (land, heath).
Cognate with Scots land (land), West Frisian ln (land), Dutch land (land),
German Land (land, country, state), Swedish land (land, country, shore,
territory), Icelandic land (land). Non-Germanic cognates include Old Irish lann
(heath), Welsh llan (enclosure), Breton lann (heath), Old Church Slavonic ld
from Proto-Slavic *lenda (heath, wasteland) and Albanian lndin (heath,
grassland) from lnd (matter, substance).
A continuous area of land surrounded by ocean is called a "landmass". Although it
may be most often written as one word to distinguish it from the usage "land
mass"the measure of land areait is also used as two words. Landmasses include
supercontinents, continents, and islands. There are four major continuous
landmasses of the Earth: Afro-Eurasia, the Americas, Australia and Antarctica. Land,
capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops, is called arable land.[2] A
country or region may be referred to as the motherland, fatherland, or homeland of
its people. Many countries and other places have names incorporating -land (e.g.
Iceland).
History of land on Earth
Main article: History of the Earth

Artist's impression of the birth of the Solar System

The earliest material found in the Solar System is dated to 4.56720.0006 bya
(billion years ago);[3] therefore, the Earth itself must have been formed by
accretion around this time. By 4.540.04 bya,[4] the primordial Earth had formed.
The formation and evolution of the Solar System bodies occurred in tandem with the
Sun. In theory, a solar nebula partitions a volume out of a molecular cloud by
gravitational collapse, which begins to spin and flatten into a circumstellar disk,
which the planets then grow out of in tandem with the star. A nebula contains gas,
ice grains and dust (including primordial nuclides). In nebular theory, planetesimals
commence forming as particulate matter accrues by cohesive clumping and then by
gravity. The assembly of the primordial Earth proceeded for 1020 myr.[5]
Earth's atmosphere and oceans were formed by volcanic activity and outgassing
that included water vapor. The origin of the world's oceans was condensation
augmented by water and ice delivered by asteroids, proto-planets, and comets.[6]
In this model, atmospheric "greenhouse gases" kept the oceans from freezing while
the newly forming Sun was only at 70% luminosity.[7] By 3.5 bya, the Earth's
magnetic field was established, which helped prevent the atmosphere from being
stripped away by the solar wind.[8] The atmosphere and oceans of the Earth
continuously shape the land by eroding and transporting solids on the surface.[9]
The crust, which currently forms the Earth's land, was created when the molten
outer layer of the planet Earth cooled to form a solid mass as the accumulated
water vapor began to act in the atmosphere. Once land became capable of
supporting life, biodiversity evolved over hundreds of million years, expanding
continually except when punctuated by mass extinctions.[10]
The two models[11] that explain land mass propose either a steady growth to the
present-day forms[12] or, more likely, a rapid growth[13] early in Earth history[14]
followed by a long-term steady continental area.[15][16][17] Continents formed by
plate tectonics, a process ultimately driven by the continuous loss of heat from the
Earth's interior. On time scales lasting hundreds of millions of years, the
supercontinents have formed and broken apart three times. Roughly 750 mya
(million years ago), one of the earliest known supercontinents, Rodinia, began to
break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia, 600540 mya, then
finally Pangaea, which also broke apart 180 mya.[18]
Land mass
"Land mass" refers to the total surface area of the land of a geographical region or
country (which may include discontinuous pieces of land such as islands). It is
written as two words to distinguish it from the usage "landmass", the contiguous
area of land surrounded by ocean. The Earth's total land mass is 148,939,063.133

km2 (57,505,693.767 sq mi) which is about 29.2% of its total surface. Water covers
approximately 70.8% of the Earth's surface, mostly in the form of oceans and ice
formations.[citation needed] What are the different types of landforms?
Q: what is landform?
A landform is a feature on the Earth's surface that is part of the terrain. Mountains,
hills, plateaus, and plains are the four major types of landforms. Minor landforms
include buttes, canyons, valleys, and basins. Tectonic plate movement under the
Earth can create landforms by pushing up mountains and hills

Value of Soil
Social issues and soil quality
Nutrient cycling, water regulation, and other soil functions are normal processes occurring in all
ecosystems. From these functions come many benefits to humans, such as food production, water
quality, and flood control, which have value economically or in improved quality of life. People
can increase or decrease the value of soil benefits because land-management choices affect soil
functions. Thus, it is important to understand what benefits we derive from soil and their value so
we can appreciate the importance of managing land in a way that maintains soil functions.

What are the social benefits of soil?


People tend to emphasize benefits with the most direct, private economic value. In rural areas,
this is usually plant growth especially as crops and rangeland, but also as recreation areas. In
urban/suburban areas, the most direct economic benefits of soil relate to structural support for
buildings, roads, and parking. Landscaping, gardening and parklands may also be valued
economically.
Those are all on-site, short-term benefits. That is, the landowner who decides how to manage the
soil also reaps the benefits (and costs) of those management decisions. In contrast, many
important benefits are long-term or go beyond the land being managed. The landholders who
make the management choices and pay the costs of managing land may not be the same people
who are affected by the landholders decisions. Society should discuss the value of these off-site
benefits and to what extent the land owner or society should pay to maintain these soil functions.

Public, off-site benefits of soil relate to the following resource


issues:
Water quality of streams, lakes, oceans, and groundwater
Air quality, especially particulates
Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

Biodiversity
Water flow and flood control
Sustainability of land productivity
Aesthetics

Summary of soil benefits

Soil Fu

Nutrient cycling

Maintaining biodiversity and habitat

Water relations

Filtering and buffering


Physical stability and support
Multiple functions
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Q: why conserve land?
The land gives us life.
We get our food from the land and our water, which flows clean when we take care of the land.

We need the land for good health places to play and explore, to exercise and let go of stress.
We need the land for vibrant communities gardens, parks, and trails that draw people, where
neighbors get together. We need the stories rooted in the land, so we can explore who we are. We
need the beauty of the land to inspire us.
e all know that one fourth of the earths surface is covered by land. The portion which forms
land on earths surface is not the same everywhere. At some places the land may be too high, at
some places very low, some areas would be lush green and certain areas are dry and barren. Our
planet earth is a beautiful collaboration of various physical features.
These different physical features are called the various landforms on the surface of the earth.
These are geographical features that control the ecosystem, climate, weather and the essence of
life on earth. In simple terms, we say that any shape on the earths surface is known as a
landform. The various landforms that we have, came into existence due to natural processes such
as erosion, wind, rain, weather conditions such as ice, frost and chemical actions. Natural events
and disasters such as earthquakes (the tectonic plates) and eruption of volcanoes created the
various shapes of the land that we see.
The different major landforms are mountains, hills, valleys, plateaus, plains and deserts.

Facts about Mountains

A mountain is the highest landform on the surface of the earth. It is usually found to be
conical in shape with steep sides and a pointed tip called a peak.

As compared to their surroundings, mountains are high points on the surface of the earth.

Mountain range is a series of mountains.

Mountains could be steep and snow covered or they could be gently sloping having
rounded tops.

The highest mountain range in the world is the Himalayas. Some mountains are found
under the sea and could be taller than the Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain
peak in the world.

3 Types of Mountains
1. Volcanic mountains
2. Fold mountains
3. Block mountains

Mountains could be formed when molten rocks from deep within the earth rise to the
surface, pouring out in the form of lava from volcanoes.

Sometimes the tectonic plates on the earths crust move towards each other, the sediments
deep below the earths surface are squeezed up to form mountain ranges.

There are many mountains that remain covered with snow throughout the year. These
mountains are very cold and hence there is not much vegetation or life found in these
hills. Trees like pine and conifer are found in the lower ranges or foothills.

Animals that have a thick fur coat can survive the extreme cold in the high mountain
regions. The yak, the mountain puma, snow leopard or the male goat called the ibex are
some of the animals found in the mountain areas.

Houses in the mountains have sloping roofs to enable the snow slide off easily. The
houses are made of wood so that they remain warm. People usually work in small
industrial units, farming and animal rearing form their main occupations.

Even besides harsh conditions, mountains are very useful to us as they act as shields for
the country blocking the cold winds and also protect us from invading enemies.

Trees provide us with commercial and medicinal value.

Melting snow from the snow capped mountains fills the rivers and they are a source of
water.

They make beautiful tourist destinations.

Facts about Hills

Hills are lower than mountains but are higher than their surrounding areas.

Hills are lower in height than mountains, but they are higher than the surrounding areas.
A number of hills together form a range of hills. Hills are usually covered with grass.

The climate in the hills is more pleasant than the climate in high snow covered
mountains. It is usually neither too hot nor too cold. They make perfect tourist
destinations.

The vegetation is thick, beautiful fruit orchards are found in the hills and it is good for
crop cultivation like tea and coffee.

Facts about Valleys

Valleys are the low-lying areas between two mountains or hills.

When rivers flow down the mountainsides and hillsides, it wears off the rocks and soil.
Over a period of time, the water carves out v- shaped grooves. These grooves get deeper
and wider, finally forming low land areas called valleys.

Valleys formed by glaciers are U- shaped valleys.

Valleys formed due to the effect of erosion are V shaped valleys.

The valleys formed (that is V shaped or U shaped), depend upon the rate at which
deepening and widening takes place.

Narrow valleys are called canyons.

The climate in the valleys is pleasant and favourable for living, hence many civilizations
in ancient times were found in valleys where there were rivers flowing making water
available for the people.

For example The Indus Valley Civilization that came up near the River Indus.

Due to ample water that is provided by the rivers and fertile soil, the vegetation is thick
and valleys look green and beautiful.

They make great tourist destinations as well.

In young Mountain areas the valleys found are steep sided.

Facts about Plateaus

A plateau is a flat topped highland with steep sides. Since it looks like a table, it is also
called a tableland. They are basically areas of high flat land.

Plateaus are usually surrounded by steep rock faces called cliffs.

Some plateaus like the Plateau of Tibet lies between mountain ranges.

Plateaus are usually good for growing certain crops.

Plateaus are formed when magma pushes up towards the surface of the earths crust. This
magma does not break through but it raises a portion of the crust up creating a plateau.

There are certain kinds of plateaus like the butte and the mesa. These are special kinds of
plateaus.

Facts about Plains

Plains as you all are familiar with are areas of flat land.

The plains usually meet the oceans or seas, these are called coastal plains.

In India, we have the Eastern Coastal Plains and the Western Coastal Plains.

Some plains are formed by the action of rivers, these are called river plains.

In India the Northern Gangetic Plain is a river plain.

River plains are very fertile and good for growing crops.

You will find most big cities are located in plains. This is because it is easier to build
houses, buildings, roads and other structures in the plains. Hence they are heavily
populated.

Facts about Islands

An island is a piece of land surrounded by water on all sides.

The continent of Australia is an island.

Islands are formed due to volcanic activity or due to hot spots in the lithosphere.

Coral islands are formed when the skeletal material of the corals piles up over a long
period of time. These look beautiful.

A large group of islands close to each other together form an archipelago. The
Lakshadweep islands are an example of an archipelago. The largest archipelago in the
world is Indonesia.

Deserts : Facts and Types

Deserts are large, dry and hot areas of land which receive little or no rainfall throughout
the year. The vegetation is scanty due to the shortage of water. Deserts are covered with
sand.

Sand dunes are formed in deserts. Sand dunes are huge hills of sand formed by the winds.

Deserts have extreme weather conditions, days could be very hot and nights very cold.
This is because the sand absorbs heat fast during the day and gives off heat quickly at
night.

The main vegetation found in the deserts are the cacti and the baobab trees.

The baobab tree can store nearly up to 1000 litres of water in its trunk which enables it to
survive the harsh conditions.

There are two types of deserts Hot Deserts and Cold Deserts.

Hot Deserts

As the name suggests, hot deserts are vast areas of land that are covered with sand and
dust. These areas receive little or no rainfall and are very dry.

The animals found in the hot deserts are camels, snakes, lizards and rats.

Thar Desert in India is a hot desert.

Cold Deserts

The cold deserts are large areas of land covered with snow. These deserts receive little or
no rainfall. They receive snowfall during the winters. Animals such as penguins, whales
and fur seals survive in the cold deserts.

The Antarctica is the worlds biggest cold desert.

Life in these cold deserts is impossible.

There are some rocky deserts like the Gobi desert in Asia.

Some other Landforms


Peninsula

A peninsula is a piece of land that is surrounded by water from three sides. For example
the southern part of India is a peninsula as it is surrounded by the Arabian sea, Bay of
Bengal and the Indian ocean and is joined to land on the fourth side.

Another example is the State of Florida.

Cape

A cape is a part of land extending in to a water body

Isthmus

An isthmus is a narrow stretch of land which joins to large land masses.

Example the Isthmus of Panama.

5 Interesting Facts
1. Camels are called the ship of the desert as they carry people and their loads from one
place to another.
2. An oasis is a place in the desert where a pool of water is found, surrounded by trees.
3. A huge mass of snow that suddenly breaks loose and crashes down a mountain is called
an avalanche.
4. Mountain animals have sharp hooves that help them climb mountains.
5. The Deccan Plateau in India is good for growing cotton because of the black soil present.

How Landsat Helps Us

The global land surface covers approximately 150 million square kilometersabout 30
percent of the Earths surfaceand humans occupy or otherwise use roughly 80 percent of the
land surface including the 40 percent converted to agriculture. The global population reached 7
billion in 2011 and is projected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. To feed and shelter the planets
growing population, extensive and intensive land use has been required, but the environmental
degradation caused by these requisite activities is diminishing the planets capacity to sustain
needed food and fiber production and fresh water supply. Foley et al. (2005) states There is an
increasing need for decision-making and policy actions across multiple geographic scales. The
very nature of the issue requires it. Land use occurs in local places, with real-world social and
economic benefits, while potentially causing ecological degradation across local, regional, and
global scales.
Land imaging from moderate-resolution Earth-observing satellites, such as Landsat, offer the
critical and irreplaceable capability to observe land use and land use change across those scales.
Landsats space-based land imaging is essential because it provides repetitive and synoptic

observations of the Earth otherwise unavailable to researchers and managers who work across
wide geographical areas and applications. Landsat data informs good decisions in many
disciplines, especially: human health, agriculture, climate, energy, fire, natural disasters, urban
growth, water management, ecosystems and biodiversity, and forest management.

Definition of Land and Land Use


Land is not regarded simply in terms of soils and surface topography, but encompasses such
features as underlying superficial deposits, climate and water resources, and also the plant and
animal communities which have developed as a result of the interaction of these physical
conditions. The results of human activities, reflected by changes in vegetative cover or by
structures, are also regarded as features of the land. Changing one of the factors, such as land
use, has potential impacts on other factors, such as flora and fauna, soils, surface water
distribution and climate. Changes in these factors can be readily explained by ecosystem
dynamics and the importance of their relationships in planning and management of land
resources has become increasingly evident.
DEFINITIONS

Land and Land Resources refer to a delineable area of the earth's terrestrial
surface, encompassing all attributes of the biosphere immediately above or
below this surface, including those of the near-surface climate, the soil and
terrain forms, the surface hydrology (including shallow lakes, rivers, marshes
and swamps), the near-surface sedimentary layers and associated
groundwater and geohydrological reserve, the plant and animal populations,
the human settlement pattern and physical results of past and present human
activity (terracing, water storage or drainage structures, roads, buildings, etc.)
(FAO/UNEP, 1997).
Land Use is characterized by the arrangements, activities and inputs by
people to produce, change or maintain a certain land cover type. (Di
Gregorio and Jansen, 1998). Land use defined in this way establishes a direct
link between land cover and the actions of people in their environment.
Land Cover is the observed (bio)physical cover on the earth's surface (Di
Gregorio and Jansen, 1998)

Functions of Land
The basic functions of land in supporting human and other terrestrial ecosystems can be
summarized as follows:

a store of wealth for individuals, groups, or a community

production of food, fibre, fuel or other biotic materials for human use

provision of biological habitats for plants, animals and microorganisms

co-determinant in the global energy balance and the global


hydrological cycle, which provides both a source and a sink for
greenhouse gases

regulation of the storage and flow of surface water and groundwater

storehouse of minerals and raw materials for human use

a buffer, filter or modifier for chemical pollutants

provision of physical space for settlements, industry and recreation

storage and protection of evidence from the historical or pre-historical


record (fossils, evidence of past climates, archaeological remains,
etc.)

enabling or hampering movement of animals, plants and people


between one area and another

In the terminology of environmental economics, land can be regarded as a stock renewable


resource. Land resources do not easily fit into the categories of renewable or non-renewable. In
general, they are slowly renewable; however, their rate of degradation far exceeds their natural
rate of regeneration. In practical terms, this means that land that is lost to degradation is not
naturally replaced within a human time frame, resulting in a loss of opportunities for the next
generation.

The Basic Relationship: Land, Population and Management


Strategies
The potential production of arable land and its susceptibility to degradation are dependent on the
management strategies employed and on inherent soil and other characteristics. In agriculturedependant societies this combination of factors determines potentially the population that can be
supported and the standard of living. When population increases in a given area, the increased
demand on production can induce stress and consequent degradation of the land resource. If no

other source of income can be tapped (e.g. by migration to urban areas) people's standards of
living decrease. However, if improved management strategies (including technologies) are
available, either the standard of living may rise or more people can be supported at the same
standard of living without deterioration of the natural resource base. It follows that an ample
supply of land of suitable quality and appropriate production technologies are essential if the
increasing demands of a growing population are to be met.

Land Resources under Stress


Currently, land resources are clearly under stress; 16 percent of arable land is degraded and the
percentage is increasing (FAO, 1997). Traditional systems of land management are either
breaking down or are no longer appropriate, and the management and technology needed to
replace them is not always available. The primary reason for this situation is the increasing
demands placed on land by the unprecedented rate of population growth and the effects it
induces. Externalities related to global change are also becoming a constraint to sustainable land
management.

Availability of Land
Notwithstanding the role of technology in increasing the number of people that can be supported
by the terrestrial biosphere, there are finite limits to the supply of land resources. FAO estimates
that a gross area of approximately 2.5 thousand million ha of land in the developing world2 has
some potential for rainfed agriculture, although two-thirds of the land are rated as having
significant constraints due to topography or soil conditions, while not all of this land is available
for agricultural production (Alexandratos, 1995). However, land is not evenly distributed either
between countries or within countries, and the difference in access to land relative to population
need is more significant than global totals. Based on an assessment of the potential production
from available land, and projected population growth in 117 countries in the developing world,
FAO concluded that by the year 2000, 64 countries (55 percent) would not be able to support
their populations from land resources alone using production systems based on low inputs (FAO,
1982).
Land is becoming more and more scarce as a resource, and this is particularly true of land
available for primary production of biomass or for conservation related purposes. Competition
for land among different uses is becoming acute and conflicts related to this competition more
frequent and more complex. This competition is often most apparent on the peri-urban fringe,
where the continuing pressures of urban expansion compete with agricultural enterprises, and
with recreational demands. Such situations frequently lead to rapid increases in the economic
value of land, and land tenure becomes an important political issue.
Many factors associated with global change directly or indirectly influence how land is used.
These include biophysical influences, such as changes in climate or natural or human-induced
disasters, as well as socio-economic aspects such as trade liberalization, the globalization of
markets, decentralization of decision making, privatization, and the widening gap between the
"haves" and the "have-nots".

Pressure of Population
Although the rate at which population is increasing has slowed since 1980, the increase in actual
numbers is currently higher than at any time in the world's history. Additions will average 97
million per year until the end of the century and 90 million per year until AD 2025. Ninety-five
percent of this increase is expected to take place in developing countries. Present figures indicate
that by the year 2050 Africa's population will be three and a half times its present level, and by
the year 2150, almost five times.
The previous hundred years has seen great advances in the technology of production, such as the
development of more productive crop varieties and the extension of irrigation and fertilizer use.
Nevertheless, it is becoming more difficult for technological progress to keep up with the rising
demands generated by population growth. This is partly a result of the extension of cropping to
more marginal areas where physical factors limit potential productivity and the risks of failure
are higher. The success of technology in meeting these demands has been geographically uneven,
being most successful in areas of low recent population growth, such as Europe and North
America, meeting with varied success in Asia and Latin America, and generally being least
successful in sub-Saharan Africa, where food production per caput has actually declined by
almost 20 percent since 1960.
Growth in total population over the past 50 years has been matched by a relative increase in the
urban population at the expense of the rural population (Figure 1). The impact of this trend is
two-fold. On the one hand, movement of people to the cities may reduce the absolute pressure on
land for agriculture while stimulating the market for producers. On the other hand, production of
primary products such as food, fibre and fuel must be produced from a diminishing land area by
a diminishing relative population, while urban expansion reduces the total land available for
agriculture. A further factor is the disproportionate migration of economically active males to the
towns, leaving women, children and the aged to shoulder the burdens of agriculture. The
situation is frequently exacerbated by government policies of urban bias, such as cheap food
prices which favour the urban dwellers and their employers, but often penalize the food
producers, who are commonly a less organized and less vociferous political constituency.
Urbanization due to population growth and migration effects has also promoted a growth in per
caput consumerism which has further increased the demands on land resources.

FIGURE 1
TRENDS IN RURAL AND URBAN POPULATION

Source: FAO, 1982

Symptoms of the Problem


The symptoms of the problem of pressure on land resources are manifested both in terms of
impacts on people, and in terms of deterioration in the condition of land or impacts on other
natural resources (Figure 2).
The deterioration in land condition may be reflected by an impaired ability to carry out any
functions of the land listed above, some of which, such as reduced capacity to produce biomass,
also, in turn, affect population support or quality of life.

FIGURE 2
SYMPTOMS OF THE PROBLEM OF PRESSURE ON LAND AND RESOURCES

The Cause of the Problem


Many of the above factors are interrelated. Figure 3 presents the relationship between cause,
problem and symptoms.

FIGURE 3
CAUSE-PROBLEMS - SYMPTOM RELATIONSHIP

The problem of land resources under stress has physical, social and political causes. At the
national level, short-term political gains have often been made at the expense of long-term
environmental damage. Decision-makers often face inordinately difficult decisions when trying
to increase production to alleviate poverty and feed people and at the same time conserve
resources to stave off environmental degradation. Often the decision-makers forfeit long-term
sustainability for immediate needs. This also holds true for the subsistence level land users who
have little choice but to seek immediate benefits for survival. Technology alone cannot be
viewed as an answer. Frequently the technologies to manage such areas in a sustainable way are
simply not available, or the land users do not have access to them due to lack of information or
resources. However, a key factor is the role of human institutions and land use policies that must
be adapted to face the challenge posed by these rapidly changing conditions.

The Point of Intervention


The essential challenge is to address the pressure on land in a way which does not cause further
deterioration in land resources or impair their essential functions. As the foregoing statistics
indicate, this will be an extremely difficult task. The immediate priority is to break out of the
downward spiral, in which resource-limited farmers are obliged, by shortage of land resources, to
degrade these limited resources even further by inadequate land husbandry in order to satisfy
immediate subsistence needs. This scenario is shown in Figure 4.

FIGURE 4
THE SPIRAL: LAND RESOURCES AND PEOPLE'S ACTIVITIES

Given that land resources management has a production and a conservation component, an
obvious task is to ensure that the rate of production increases in a sustainable way. Perhaps a less
obvious, but equally important, aspect of land resources management is the ability of land users
and other decision-makers to take informed decisions regarding the land resources. As long as
rural populations remain significant and vulnerable, there is little opportunity to enhance social
capital (education, institutional and social networks) which would lead to enhanced decision
making.
As shown in the simplified second scenario in Figure 4, a key to breaking the present downward
spiral is to improve land users' capacity to take informed decisions. One aspect of this it to
improve access to information and technology and to enhance the capacity to use them. In one
sense this is the mechanism used in conjunction with the green revolution, which has been

extremely successful (especially in Asian countries) in improving yields and even building
surpluses. However, the green revolution technologies have not proven to be sustainable, neither
in yield production nor conservation of the natural resources.
Information and technology and the capacity to use them are essential to informed and more
conscious decision making. However, if individuals or institutions are not empowered to make
decisions then sustainable land management cannot be the outcome. Establishing land-use
policies that enable informed decisions to be made about land resources is therefore the critical
factor because to be enabling policies must be built on stakeholder or land user involvement.
There is no universal technological fix for the challenge of meeting human needs while
protecting the terrestrial biosphere. Land varies greatly in its productive potential, constraints and
responses to management, even within areas as small as an individual farm. The specific goals of
groups of land users also differ, as well as the technology and physical and financial resources at
their disposal. The wide variations in land resources and socio-economic conditions necessitate
an integrated planning approach applied with great flexibility to address particular questions and
propose specific solutions.

References

Alexandratos, N. (ed). 1995. World Agriculture: Towards 2010. An FAO


Study. Rome: FAO, & Chichester, UK: John Wiley.
Di Gregorio, A. and Jansen, L.J.M. 1998.Land Cover Classification
System (LCCS): Classification Concepts and User Manual. For software
version 1.0. GCP/RAF/287/ITA Africover - East Africa Project in
cooperation with AGLS and SDRN. Nairobi, Rome.
FAO. 1982. Potential Population Supporting Capacities of Lands in the
Developing World. Technical report of Project INT/75/P13, based on the
work of G.M. Higgins, A.H. Kassam, L. Naiken, G. Fischer, and M.M. Shah.
FAO/IIASA/UNFPA, Rome.
FAO/UNEP. 1997. Negotiating a Sustainable Future for Land. Structural
and Institutional Guidelines for Land Resources Management in the 21st
Century. FAO/UNEP, Rome.

Further Recommended Literature

Di Gregorio, A. and Jansen, L.J.M. 1998. A New Concept For A Land

Cover Classification System. The Land 2(1): 55-65.


FAO. 1996. FAO Yearbook 49: Production. Rome.
FAO. 1999. Terminology for Integrated Resources Planning and
Management. FAO, Rome. (in press)
FAO/UNEP. 1996. Our Land Our Future. A New Approach to Land Use
Planning and Management. FAO/UNEP, Rome.
UNCED. 1993. Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable
Development. United Nations, New York.