Community is the solution
All the talk of rights for indigenous people across all continents is as relevant in all European countries, (including the UK, arguably the first to reach the unenviable position of having reached the stage where it must adopt real and sustainable development in order to not only produce a tangible case study but also for its very survival in a world of land grabbing and rapidly diminishing biodiversity).
All communities living in their landscapes are disenfranchised and the situation is getting worse.
The UK has per head of population invested more than any other country into its natural environment, without huge success. The NGOs and Quangos have profited from this but they now need to live up to their responsibilities and work alongside communities, including the practitioners with the answers within those communities.
Communities are the customer and producer in the economics of sustainable development.
Legislation should be simple; ban the imports of illegal or unsustainable timber. Do not try and impose further restrictions on elements within a landscape or further fragment other landscapes by disproportionate funding.
A transient population, one that is still fixated on moving towards financial centres, is at odds with long term sustainable development.
Offsetting, be it carbon or biodiversity or any other similar notion, accelerate and perpetuate such population movements.
People who live in their landscapes, know their landscapes.
Forestry, Agriculture, Arboriculture and even some elements of Landscaping & Construction can only progress sustainably by combining traditional knowledge with innovation, to install policy without the input of those in a community in a landscape working with land and development is to halt the progress of engineering, research, science and therefore sustainable development.
We need to change the existing notion of stakeholders and introduce the real stakeholders, the people in a landscape, at every level and from the start – if started already without public input, then start again.
To do otherwise as is happening at present is to perpetuate the arrogant and wrong notion that ‘the people are stupid’ – which many freely admit to thinking.
The valuation of the natural elements of a landscape go well beyond the limitations of ecosystem services into the intangible, into the realm we just don’t know enough about. This is science and the present situation is one where governments can decide the science is wrong, if they wish to is very dangerous. Science should define the policy.
To take one element of a landscape, one of the largest and most significant elements because the supply of the air we breathe depends on its existence – A tree:
There are several real methods of valuing a tree or a forest. These methods are varied and interchangeable to suit what we need to ascertain. But all of those involved in different tree valuations are unanimous in that the values are not necessarily the true value of that tree, (the scientist within). But such values are always higher than those attributable by carbon offset alone.
And in taking a tree, the largest living organism ever to exist on the planet, which is almost pure carbon and an invaluable material for the widest needs of human beings and fixing a value only based on offsetting carbon is ignoring the proven and more importantly the unproven attributes the existence of that tree has.
If we want to tackle the carbon issue properly, we can do so in parallel with helping to reclaim degraded land and make it suitable for agriculture as well as ensuring that carbon storage for business only has to be offset just outside the windows of the majority of the population into the green space and landscaped parks of our towns and cities. We need to look at soil.
A healthy soil is one that is full of carbon and full of biodiversity that provides the base of a larger ecosystem that we can see and admire, not least trees and forests which are so intertwined with soil to make it impossible to separate tree from soil.
The French talk of terroir, the lack of a decent translation of is a serious and regressive blow for the English speaking world, is the taste we can gain from a landscape. All natural elements in a landscape add to this taste, trees, humans, rivers, rocks etc,. This could be the basis for a new landscape economy, probably the most viable and palatable case study for sustainable development that exists.
Trotting off to Rio with a briefcase full of ill though out, un-researched think tank blurb to forward on is not the answer.
Get back to your community, your landscape and listen to those that know how to dig and get digging yourself and at the end of the day sit back and taste the drink and food of your landscape. Further buy and sell the drink and food of other landscapes. Enjoy sustainable development, it’s wonderful (but can give you a hangover if not taken in moderation) and you can now also use the internet and watch communities around the world doing exactly the same thing.
“Think globally, act globally, think locally and act locally”