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Trade-Offs in Multi-Purpose Land Use under Land Degradation

Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS), Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali 763537, Columbia
Division of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea
Department of Geography, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Economics and Rural Development, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Australian River Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), EPC 416 Kathmandu, Nepal
Agriculture Global Practice, World Bank, Washington, DC 20433, USA
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor 16000, Indonesia
Forest Sciences Centre, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2196;
Received: 9 October 2017 / Revised: 20 November 2017 / Accepted: 25 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Degradation and Sustainable Management of Land)
Land provides a host of ecosystem services, of which the provisioning services are often considered paramount. As the demand for agricultural products multiplies, other ecosystem services are being degraded or lost entirely. Finding a sustainable trade-off between food production and one or more of other ecosystem services, given the variety of stakeholders, is a matter of optimizing land use in a dynamic and complex socio-ecological system. Land degradation reduces our options to meet both food demands and environmental needs. In order to illustrate this trade-off dilemma, four representative services, carbon sinks, water storage, biodiversity, and space for urbanization, are discussed here based on a review of contemporary literature that cuts across the domain of ecosystem services that are provided by land. Agricultural research will have to expand its focus from the field to the landscape level and in the process examine the cost of production that internalizes environmental costs. In some situations, the public cost of agriculture in marginal environments outweighs the private gains, even with the best technologies in place. Land use and city planners will increasingly have to address the cost of occupying productive agricultural land or the conversion of natural habitats. Landscape designs and urban planning should aim for the preservation of agricultural land and the integrated management of land resources by closing water and nutrient cycles, and by restoring biodiversity. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural land conversion; biodiversity; ecosystem services; integrated land and water resource management (ILWM); urbanization agricultural land conversion; biodiversity; ecosystem services; integrated land and water resource management (ILWM); urbanization
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Vlek, P.L.G.; Khamzina, A.; Azadi, H.; Bhaduri, A.; Bharati, L.; Braimoh, A.; Martius, C.; Sunderland, T.; Taheri, F. Trade-Offs in Multi-Purpose Land Use under Land Degradation. Sustainability 2017, 9, 2196.

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