Taking a Stand for Land


This week, the Lexicon of Sustainability’s “Food List” is on Land Trusts and Conservation Easements. Though we might like to think that the value of land is priceless, in a good number of cases raw land and farmland, regardless of the ecosystem that is present, can be bought and turned into whatever the local master plan/zoning laws allow. A thriving meadow can become a thriving mega-plex. 

Thankfully, a number of organizations fight to prevent the land grabs. Conserving forests, farms, swamps … essentially soil that’s still somewhat natural and not smothered with pavement and buildings … trusts perform miracles. You can read  about these remarkable achievements on the Food List

If you still have any doubt about the importance of protecting land and keeping it in the hands of the right people, head over to Food Tank to read an interview with Frederick Kaufman, investigative journalist of the global food system. Back in July Kaufman wrote an article in Harper’s called The Man Who Stole the Nile explaining how an Ethiopian billionaire leased a large tract of land from the Ethiopian government, developed a rice farm, planned to divert the Nile itself to meet the crop’s outrageously high water demand, and is exporting all of that rice “over the heads of his starving countrymen”  and selling it in Saudi Arabia. It is a scary story about how money and power can exploit a country’s and a continent’s natural resources at the expense of hungry people. However, it does have a happy ending. In his Food Tank interview, Kaufman tells of the tale’s justice-laden denouement:

After “The Man Who Stole the Nile" came out, the Sheik abandoned his operation in Gambella. The press and potential for headlines risk makes a difference. One of the things we can do is support freedom of the press in foreign countries so homegrown journalists can shine a light on injustice. A free press is a great weapon against hunger."

Conserving and protecting our land in many cases means protecting the health of our people. Kaufman shows that by increasing our awareness about land ownership, land rights, and ways in which they might be exploited, we can prevent unjust uses of the skin of our Earth.


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson 


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