In 37 years, by 2050, will we have had the wherewithal to transform land management into an adaptive, resilient form that meets goals in global food security and energy security, economic development, biodiversity, environmental improvements and solutions to climate change?
Yesterday, in the heart of central Illinois’ corn and soybean country, a room full of conservationists, farmers and other public/private stakeholders came together to learn of a three-year-old group and its mission prior to the Conservation Technology Information Center’s (CTIC) Conservation In Action Tour.
While such a vision seems like a pipe dream, ongoing collaboration and dialogue by thought leaders in agriculture, forestry and conservation – led by a group called Solutions from the Land – are clearing some smoke and have just released its first major report on this challenge.
It is their mission to bring together various stakeholders to identify near-term and long-term actions needed to deliver the vast solutions of the mega-challenges facing our nation and globe.
The white paper report outlines current challenges for land management:
- Loss of working lands.
- Conflicting policies and inadequate rewards for ecosystem services.
- Declining investments in research and innovation.
- The changing climate.
- Managing risk, market volatility and multiple demands.
Given these challenges that will not meet the needs of tomorrow, Solutions from the Land suggests five focus areas that can fundamentally shift land use management to achieve multiple goals:
- Implement landscape-scale solutions and partnerships.
- Harmonize policy frameworks.
- Reward stewardship of ecosystem services.
- Energize and coordinate research.
- Transform and modernize information networks.
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John Hardin – Indiana farmer with deep experience in ag policy advisory, grain and meat trade and food security on national and state levels – summed up the key takeaways of the meeting:
- “We need to shift away from talking about problems of farming to talk about solutions that farming can bring if land is properly managed.”
- “It’s very starry-eyed if you think we’re going to be able to look for government funded solutions for all problems in the future. We’ve got to find other ways.”
- “Current delivery systems and decision-making processes are not adequate in the future. There’s a strong potential that some really dedicated government employees may be under real threat. How we hold them together is serious.”
- “We have to migrate away from government-centric programs to market-based solutions. Collaborate and find ways to help producers deliver Solutions from the Land.”
- “We need to engage many of you in this national dialogue around multiple integrated solutions for farmers, ranchers and foresters. We need to think in a very different box.”
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