Preserve and manage working lands to produce food and materials sustainably
Working lands, whether they support agriculture, animal production, or forestry, are foundational to our economy and our quality of life. We all depend on a healthy, abundant food source for our very survival, and productive timberlands provide essential materials.
Population growth and accelerating urban development are placing increasing pressure on working lands, and current management practices aggravate the issue - most are simply not sustainable. More than half of U.S. cropland is dedicated to a handful of high-yielding commodity crops, but monocultures harm soil quality and health, eventually decreasing productivity. Many farms also rely on fertilizers and pesticides that damage ecosystems and pose risks to human health. Rangelands… Forestry practices can also have negative impacts, but when managed well, forestry can benefit communities, supply resources, and support a stable climate.
Working lands are a major part of our landscape - in the U.S. alone, there are XXacres of lands dedicated to agriculture, rangelands, or timber. The way we manage these lands is critical and has far-reaching impacts. At Earth Economics, we provide the economic analysis that enables managers and policy makers to make decisions that account for nature and yield long-term sustainability.
We Focus On:
Promoting Farmland Preservation
The American Farmland Trust reports that the U.S. loses over 40 acres of farm and ranch land every hour. That's a lot of working land disappearing to development that could be supplying sustainable food to our growing population instead.
Our aim is to support communities in advocating for farmland preservation, especially at the rapidly developing suburban fringe. We assess the economic value of farmland beyond the agricultural value it provides – farmlands also play an important role in cultural heritage and way of life, besides all the services they provide, like pollination, carbon sequestration, and flood risk reduction. We work with stakeholders to not only value their land, but also to identify funding mechanisms that enable farmers to build long-term stewardship.
Informing Best Management Practices
It is critical that we manage our working lands using best practices that support healthy ecosystems and allow for sustainable production that will support our communities. We provide economic assessments of management practices, focusing on the financial impacts to ecosystem services. By gauging the environmental and financial impacts of sustainable agriculture practices, we enable stakeholders to make the most well-informed decisions about where to invest and how to manage agricultural lands.
In forestry, we work with managers to find a balance between extracting timber and keeping ecosystem services like water supply and wildlife habitat intact. Our data helps managers to make decisions that are best for the timber industry in the long run.
Banner Photo Credit: Mary Stephens