© Mitsuhiko Imamori/Minden Pictures
“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” This Native American proverb reflects the debt we owe the next generation to ensure that the Earth provides for their needs as bountifully as it provides for ours. It requires that we make responsible decisions in how we use the land and that we are innovative in our methods.
For more than 20 years, we’ve been advocating for and helping to implement successful land-use planning and approaches around the world. This includes traditional conservation options like establishing protected areas to multiple-use and private stewardship by communities, individuals, and corporations. Land-use done wisely and with care can meet inter-dependent conservation and development needs.
Liberia’s timber-rich forests are benefiting from a law that takes into account conservation, community use, and commercial use. The measure protects certain forests and regulates others for both community benefit and commercial logging, meaning the forest can be used for multiple purposes, but is not harmed unnecessarily. From Madagascar’s rice fields to the water-laden Guyana Shield, similar land sharing programs and land use techniques are providing positive results.
But responsible land use is not only a concern for local communities. As consumers, we can all support better land use through our purchases and by supporting businesses and industries that are stewards of the land they draw from and supportive of the indigenous communities they work among. And we can support the work of governments and non-profits that work toward responsible land use agreements. These new approaches drive balanced, sustainable land use for the benefit of people, economies, and the environment around the world.
Future generations, regardless of where they live, are relying on us. If we plan wisely, our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to draw from the same plentiful Earth that we benefit from today.