There has never been a more important time to conserve and protect our land resources from human impact.
The conservation of land resources is the protection of natural land resources. This is achieved by eliminating or mitigating the human impact on natural environments, the responsible harvesting of land resources, as well as conservation efforts that aim to reverse human damage to land resources.
Throughout our nation and our planet, people and governments are beginning to take active measures to prevent environmental destruction caused by humans. We are seeing this initiated in policies, as well as lifestyle changes in everyday citizens. It’s important to know that our land resources are something we all rely on and without immediate change, we are putting our entire planet at risk. Luckily, there is a lot we can all do to take part in the global shift towards sustainable living and land resource protection. Let’s dive into what land conservation is and how you can be a part of the change.
Land conservation policies are enforced by government organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. These environmental legislations are in place to keep corporations, industries, and citizens from causing further damage to our vital land resources.
How To Conserve Land Resources
The mainstream appeal of practicing land resource conservation is a relatively new thing in our society. We are currently in the middle of a global conscientious shift towards sustainable living, which is being driven by the threat of climate change, pollution, land degradation, habitat loss, and the damage being done to our land resources.
People are beginning to wake up and understand that by harming our environment, we are causing harm to our entire planet - and ultimately, ourselves. However, a lot of damage has already be done and unfortunately, the problem is not going to be as easy to solve as we would like. Combating our environmental crisis and the destruction of our land resources is going to require a global effort.
We started to see the damage being done to our land resources around the 20th century when industrial complexes began to gain power and momentum throughout the western world. This capitalistic drive to fuel consumerism and maximize profit put making profits before environmental protection.
This puts our generation in a very important position to take action and prevent further harm being caused to our nation’s and our planet’s natural resources. Luckily, there are a lot of organizations, policies, and everyday people joining the fight to protect our environment and our land resources. Here are some of the ways that we conserve our land resources.
There is no land resource that we take for granted more than our freshwater. We have grown spoiled with having fresh drinking water flow through our taps. So much so, that we have forgotten that there was a time, not so long ago, where this luxury was practically unfathomable.
In addition, it’s easy to forget that many people in this world still do not have access to fresh drinking, which is why it is absolutely crucial that we begin to treasure and protect this natural resource in our society.
People commonly misinterpret that although our planet is predominantly made of water, it does not mean that we are allowed to drink it - let alone have access to it. At the end of the day, only 3% of the water found on planet Earth is freshwater and the majority of it is locked in the polar icecaps.
In actuality, humans only have access to just 1% of the freshwater on Earth. And with the way that we are treating it, we are putting this small amount of fresh water at serious risk - with droughts and water shortages becoming more and more common - and water pollution sabotaging what little we do have. Here are some ways that we can practice water conservation:
- Take shorter showers
- Eliminating/mitigating water pollution
- Avoid overusing water during summer/dry seasons
- Check your pipes for leaks
- Limit industrial water usage
While there is so much that we as private individuals can do to help water conservation efforts, the reality is that a major contributor to this problem comes from the industrial complex. All around our nation and the world corporate industries are polluting and depleting vital water channels with impunity.
Aside from our own contributions to protecting our water resources, a critical area of focus needs to be placed on the large-scale industries that are part of the problem. Governments need to enact stricter policies that hold these corporate industries accountable for the damages they cause to our water resources. Unfortunately, this is not only a national problem but a global one and it is going to take the cooperation of all countries on our planet to truly combat this issue.
Until the early 20th century, land degradation was not something that society had much experience with. The reason for this is due to how we have changed the way that we utilized our lands around this time.
The 20th century brought with it some revolutionary farming techniques and technologies, which greatly increased the amount of food we can produce and distribute. At the time, this was groundbreaking and seemed like a solution to food shortages and even world hunger.
With that being said, we failed to see how these sorts of practices were affecting our environment and what they would mean for food growing in the future. The truth is that while we did create these incredible food-growing technologies, beneath the surface these practices were causing damage to our land, which we would later discover would be irreversible for decades - if not centuries.
It’s easy to forget that our soil is one of the most vital and sensitive land resources that we have. While many people misinterpret soil as merely being magic dirt in the ground that grows our food, in reality, fertile soils have an abundance of nutrients in them, which our food is dependant on to be grown properly. Our soil is put at risk when we practice farming techniques that are not sustainable for long-term food growing. Let’s take a look at how farming affects our land resources.
During the 20th century, we watched our traditional, humble farms transform from small food growing operations owned by individual farmers into corporate enterprises. It was during this time period that large farms were greatly capitalizing on the industry and began growing only single crops per farm.
While this seemed more efficient at first, it was actually causing major damage to the fertility of our soil. This occurs when a single-crop farm depletes the nutrients of the soil beneath it. The reason for this is that a single crop tends to favor a single nutrient within the soil as its primary source of nutrients.
When this single crop is harvested on a farm over and over again, the single nutrient of the soil is exhausted and becomes depleted, which results in land degradation and permanent damage to the soil, which cannot be reversed.
A good way to look at this is to examine any ecosystem in nature. Given that each link in the chain of an ecosystem is interconnected and dependant on one another, disrupting just one part of the chain will affect the entire ecosystem. Much is the same with soil infertility caused by single-crop farming. Luckily, we have begun to learn from our mistakes and are beginning to adopt more sustainable farming practices, which mitigate or eliminate land degradation. Here’s how.
Crop rotation is a farming technique that has been around for about as long as we have been growing food. The irony is that we seem to have forgotten to implement it during the most innovative time in food-growing history.
The way crop rotations work is by alternating the crops that a farm produces on an annual or semi-annual basis. This means that a farmer must change up the type of food that they grow to not deplete the specific resources that a single crop would.
The concept is quite straightforward but we seem to have learned the hard way why it’s so important to implement. Since our failure to implement crop rotation during the 20th century, it has now become a mandatory farming practice that is regulated and enforced.
Another farming practice that is responsible for ensuring the health of our soil is to implement mulching during harvest cycles.
After crops are harvested the soil health can benefit greatly by adding mulch within the ground and above it. Mulch is essentially organic materials that are put into the ground so that the soil can break down materials that will give it more nutrients. Some common examples of mulch are:
- Dried leaves
In addition to keeping the nutrients in our soils abundant, mulch also works as a protective barrier for the soil as well. By placing a layer of mulch above the ground, the soil is insulated from the outside temperature, which could cause harm to the nutrient value of the soil. This is particularly useful during winter months or areas with colder climates.
The mulch can also act as a protection from harsh winds, which can blow away crucial topsoil. The damages of this kind of event were severely felt during the Great Dustbowl in the United States.
A farming technique that is not only important for protecting soil but water as well is the implementation of buffer strips.
This practice can be seen on just about all large farms from an aerial view, as there will be large barriers of vegetation in the form of strips, which separate crop areas from one another. By setting up these buffer strips we are able to filter out waste and other toxins that runoff from crop areas and even other farms.
In addition, buffer strips protect our land resources by preventing erosion from occurring.
Until the 20th century, the only way we knew how to farm was organic, which means not using anything other than natural practices and solutions to grow our food.
Industrial farming changed this when we started using poisonous pesticides to deal with pests and weeds that affect crop health. With that being said, organic farming is much more laborious and not as efficient as using pesticides.
However, as we began dependant on pesticides for our food growing process, we entered a downward spiral of chemical reliance for farming. The reason that pesticides are such a slippery slope is that the pests we use to eliminate them adapt to them over time. This creates a cycle of us constantly needing to develop more powerful and poisonous pesticides to combat the superbugs that we in turn are creating through our dependency.
In addition, pesticides are a major contaminant for land resources other than soil. It’s common that these pesticides are washed into our freshwater streams, which end up posing a threat to our water resources and all ecosystems that are dependant on them. By adopting environmentally farming practices such as organic farming, we can greatly mitigate the harm that we cause to our land resources.
At the moment forests make up just under a billion acres of land. This quite a large amount of our country but at one point the number was even higher.
Deforestation caused by logging contributed to a massive amount of this important land resource being stripped away from our country. While we still have so much forest left in our nation, a large amount of it was planted by humans as a result of deforestation.
With that being said, forests are a vital land resource, which we are dependant on and will continue to use. A key factor of deforestation is to do it sustainably so that forests have time to regenerate. Here are some ways that we can contribute to forestation:
- Responsible logging
- Fewer paper products
- Planting more trees
- Creating more protected forests
Protecting this essential land resource has never been more important, as our trees are vital in our efforts to lower our carbon emissions and combat climate change.
Principles Of Land Resource Conservation
The challenge of conserving our land resources is something that we are experiencing all over the world. While each situation is different, there are some principles for conserving land resources that can be applied to help us better understand how to most optimally approach this environmental dilemma. Let’s examine the principles of land resource conservation:
The true heart of all conservation work lies within the environmental practice of preservation.
This is the most beneficial and less harmful way to approach conserving our land resources. This practice was pioneered by John Muir who believed that the natural world was something that was there for us to enjoy and not utilize for economic growth or personal wealth; a firm believer of living with the land - opposed to off of it.
This practice is still carried out today in our society, but much more sparingly than other conservation principles. Given that our society and the human population are growing exceedingly large, the principle of preservation is extremely difficult to carry out - but not impossible.
We can see preservation implemented in our nation’s most treasured natural areas such as National Parks. These conservation areas have strict preservation guidelines for protecting land resources and prohibit any sort of utilization or harvesting resources within the boundaries of the parks.
Unfortunately, there are some land resources that we simply cannot live without and the best way to conserve them is to mitigate our use and reliance on them.
Mitigation is not the first approach to take when dealing with land resources, but if done conscientiously it can be carried out with a minimal negative impact on the environment.
A key way to practice mitigation with land resources is to only use what we have to. This means not abusing our water supply and choosing farming techniques that cause less harm.
In addition, mitigation is a very useful way to help conserve land resources by everyday citizens. By lowering our intake of foods, goods, and materials that are causing a direct threat to our land resources, we are successfully participating in the practice of land resource mitigation.
Prior to the Conservation Movement, we harvested resources and abused our environment with no consideration of the long-term effects our actions would have.
This led to a lot of our land resources becoming contaminated, destroyed, and depleted. In some cases, the damage that has been done is not going to be possible to reverse.
However, there are many situations where we can take action to help restore our land resources. After carefully analyzing the effects of human interference on water quality and land degradation, we are able to assess whether restoration is possible.
If it is, conservationists take measures to ensure that further harm to our land resources is eliminated.
There are many occurrences where environmental harm was done that is quite severe and a restoration approach to preserve land resources is a long shot.
In this case, the best way to approach conserving our land resources is through remediation. If damage is irreversible for the foreseeable future, we can take active measures to ensure that the healing process of a land resource is accelerated by using tactics that have as little of an environmental footprint as possible.
These sorts of situations are generally caused by industries, which create waste on a much larger scale than most individuals are capable of.
Land Resource Conservation At Home
The incredible thing about protecting our environment and conserving our land resources is that we can all do our part in this fight. It’s easy to forget that the decisions we make in our everyday lives take some sort of a toll on our local environment and our entire planet.
This can be quite empowering, as it enables us to take active measures in our daily lifestyle to change the world - and with our environment being in worse shape than it’s ever been, there’s never been a better time to start.
A common defeatist attitude towards this is to think that one person cannot possibly make the changes necessary to save the entire planet. However, if we all work together towards the collective goal of protecting our environment and conserving our land resources, this goal becomes much more attainable. Let’s take a look at some ways that we can practice land conservation at home.
It’s easy to blame all of our land resource issues on large corporations and industries, but it’s also important to acknowledge that as consumers, we are the ones that enable the institutions to create damage to our land resources - and a major aspect of this comes from our food.
Large-scale farming and food production is the biggest contributor to the destruction of our land resources. These industrial farms are creating massive amounts of pollution, which enters our freshwater channels and creates land degradation.
With that being said, the biggest culprit in this scheme is the meat industry. The reason for this is that not only does meat create the most direct pollution towards our land resources, it also indirectly requires the most for its production.
Meat, and in particular beef, is one of the largest consumers of water in the entire United States. To produce just a single pound of beef requires just under 2,000 gallons of water! And with the massive amounts of beef that we as a nation consume, we end up wasting an incredible amount of water in the process.
In addition to beef, just about any animal product directly or indirectly is damaging our vital land resources. The best way to combat this is to either mitigate or eliminate our consumption of animal products.
It’s due to this that we are seeing a cultural shift towards plant-based foods. By adopting a plant-based diet, we are able to significantly reduce the harm being done to our environment by conserving our water and land resources.
Many environmentalists are taking it upon themselves to put food growing into their owns hands by creating a home garden.
This is a great way to help conserve land resources, as it gives you full control over how your food is grown - every step of the way. This means that you can mitigate or eliminate your dependency on Big Agro, which is responsible for much of the damage being done to our land resources.
Establishing a home garden also means that you can grow your food organic without the use of harmful pesticides that will damage your soil. In addition, you have full control over the amount of water being utilized during the growing process to ensure that there is less wastage.
Conscientious Utility Use
Whether it’s the level you keep your thermostat or the timers on your sprinklers, there’s always a way to optimize your home utilities to lower your negative impact on land resources.
One of the biggest land resources that we fail to conserve in our home environment is water. While water shortages vary across the country, wasting this precious resource is always something to avoid.
The most important thing you can do is be aware of the health of your local area’s water supply. If you live in an area that has an abundance of water, the level at which you conserve your water can be a bit looser.
However, if you are in an area where water is an extremely scarce resource, you should take part in not wasting it. This is most commonly found in regions such as deserts or states that have experienced severe droughts in recent years such as California. In this case, you should try to limit using water in the following ways:
- Private swimming pools
- Washing cars
- Watering lawns
- Long showers
It’s easy to get used to having such luxuries in our lives that we forget what it is like to live without them. To prevent us from ever having to experience a real water shortage, we should all be conscientious of how we use our utilities.
Until just recently, environmental activism was something that was not a mainstream trend and was greatly disregarded by our government. It wasn’t until people started paying attention to the beauty of nature and the harm being caused to it by human interference that society began to pay attention to the necessity of caring for our environment and conserving our land resources.
With that being said, the best way to continue this movement is to bring awareness to this issue, as public awareness is what allowed our passion for the environment to become a societal value. The best way to raise awareness about the conservation of land resources is to:
- Educate your peers and the public
- Get involved with environmental activism
- Donate to trusted organizations
Raising awareness for this vital environmental cause will be essential in conserving our land resources and protecting our planet. By doing so, we will be able to reform government policies and help society adapt to the lifestyle changes necessary to create the change we want to see in the world.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker