Deforestation has caused a host of environmental issues from soil erosion to changes in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it also has led to decreasing economic returns as resources become depleted. Sustainable forestry offers a way to benefit economically from forestry yet to do so in a way which allows for the sustainability of forests.
Foresters can rotate tree species to take advantage of changing cover as existing trees grow and fill in the forest canopy. Land managers benefit financially by having a reliable source of timber for harvest. Organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provide guidance for foresters for creating and maintaining sustainable forests.
The economic impact of sustainable agriculture also are driven by the consumer. Forestry products certified by the FSC allow consumers to make informed choices regarding the products they buy. For individuals wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, sustainable forestry provides them with a way to do so indirectly through their purchases.
Agriculture can be devastating on the landscape. The depletion of soil nutrients can lead to decreased yields and crops which are more susceptible to disease and parasites. Sustainable agriculture recognizes the impacts of farming and seeks ways to minimize its effects. In this way, the economic benefits of sustainable agriculture extend far beyond the farmlands.
By following practices such as integrated pest management, farmers can reduce their costs associated with pesticide application by using more effective approaches to pest control. Agricultural runoff is a major source of water contaminants in the nation’s aquatic resources. The economic costs to society due to water pollution are reduced, allowing the benefits to be realized by the surrounding communities as well.
One reason that resources may be neglected or depleted is because of a lack of awareness. Eco-tourism is one way in which local communities can find economic value in their resources. This awareness benefits the community by providing a reliable source of income and helping to protect valuable resources.
Eco-tourism benefits from their own experiences of different environments and their peoples. This appreciation can then translate into monetary assistance through donations or purchases of sustainable agriculture products. The economic impact of sustainable agriculture can help communities realize the value of their resources and take ownership in their maintenance. It can also empower communities, giving them the knowledge they need to better manage their resources.
Sustainable agriculture provides land managers with the tools they need to make thoughtful choices regarding their impact on the environment as well as improving the economic benefits of following these practices. By reducing the environmental impact, the costs of agriculture to the community are minimized. The economic benefits are more far-reaching because of these practices.
Photo by Fred Fokkelman, stock.xchng
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Integrated Pest Management