Underpinning the economic value of land
Greetings! It’s my hope that you’re doing well wherever you are as you’re reading this. I know it’s a bit late but, welcome to the month of June! We’re ending the first half of the year and I hope you’ve been making progress in accomplishing any new year resolutions you set at the beginning of the year. If you haven’t begun, it’s my hope that you get the motivation and self-discipline to get on them. All the best!
SUSTAINABLE LAND USE
We shall resume looking into how being environmentally sustainable can contribute to economic development. Sustainable land management is defined by the United Nations as the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions.
Importance of land in economic development.
Land happens to be one of the three major factors of production in classical economics and is an essential input for housing and food production. Land is also the backbone of agricultural economies and it provides substantial economic and social benefits.
Most economic activities are carried out on land. Construction sites; educational institutions; restaurants and food outlets; wheat that is later on processed to make flour for making bread or cakes is grown on land; processing plants; tobacco farming; botanical gardens; recreational facilities and nature reserves are all on land. We can talk about greenhouse farming or farming in pots and all, but what surface is holding all those up?
Do we not gain economic or financial benefits from these activities?
In Harare 200m2 serviced stands can be sold at USD16,000 per m2, is this not proof that land is of economic value?
Then why should we look on as land gets degraded? If we continue at this rate will our future generations have any arable land for farming or other activities, or will this country be full of mining pits that would have been left uncovered for many decades?
“Land in Africa is becoming increasingly degraded. Erosion and/or chemical and physical damage has degraded about 65% of agricultural lands. Farmers cultivate marginal and unproductive soils, further degrading the land, or to migrate to cities and slums.”United Nations Environment Program
In 1950, the land ratio per person in Africa was 13.5 hectares/person; it decreased to 3.2ha/person in 2005 and is estimated to be 1.5ha/person in 2050. This is because of our population increase. Despite the smaller ratio, I’m personally more concerned about whether that land will actually be of good quality; whether the soil will be fertile or whether it will be bare due to soil erosion from many years of exposure to harsh conditions. Will it be suitable for any production or ensuring that is among the least of our concerns?
As defined by Eswaran, (2001) “Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.”
This is actually alarming, because if it’s agricultural land that’s being affected, there’ll be a fall in market supply and prices will go up. In a country already experiencing an inflation rate of 240.6%, I don’t think that will be readily welcomed by some consumers.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, as of 2008, land degradation was a major problem in some African countries including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Toyo, Uganda and Mozambique. This shows that it’s a problem which is quite common, but one we have to solve.
Zimbabwe alone has a total surface area of 390 757km2. Our land is limited. We shouldn’t have the mentality that if we degrade all the land within our borders we can extend our national borders to inhibit other country’s land; but rather we should aim to restore what we have for our pride as a nation lies in this.
I strongly support sustainable land practices. These can be endorsed in various setups, and next time around we shall look into some of those.
Amongst these, I’ll personally mention that I’m against the use of landfills because they take up space that can be reallocated to other income generating projects. Also, why should recyclable waste be taken there when it can contribute to economic development as we saw last time as well? Also, some waste that ends up in landfills contributes to greenhouse gas emission and climate change, which one of the biggest threats to mankind in this day and age.
The need to empower people…
Sustainability consists of three pillars, namely economic, social and environment. We have seen how these are interconnected before, and if we want to attain environmental development we need to also attain economic development. It is of utmost importance that we actually empower people so they can be above the poverty line and afford sustainable means of survival as well as actively engage in them, for some acts they do are out of desperation and maybe not all of them actually know the consequences of their actions.
For “It would be easy to convince people to stop clearing the forest if there was an alternative.” – Edward Harris, 2003.
Food for thought.
There’re many people to be empowered out there and educated on the importance of sustainability, as well as empowered so they can opt for sustainable means of consumption or production. We have a long journey ahead of us, but we should stay committed, for “Earth is what we all have in common.”
I’ll be ending here for today. Do keep safe until next time! As usual, I’d love to hear from you so if you have anything to share please feel free to leave your comments in the comment box below.