March 13, 2013

Finding Solutions From the Land

Rachel Friedman, University of Queensland

“We have now, for the first time in human history, the capacity to not only feed a planet, but to do it with tools that allow us to look at biodiversity, look at ecosystem benefits, look at a sustainable way of doing this. We have the capacity, but do we have the will to do that? … By the year 2050, with 9 billion people on the planet, will we still have the capacity to feed this planet?”

– A.G. Kawamura, Former Secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Partner organizations of the Solutions from the Land dialogue. Courtesy of

The answer to that essential question, according to A.G. Kawamura, is yes. However, the caveat is that we all must work together. Solutions from the Land is an initiative started in 2009 to open dialogue between farmers, ranchers, and foresters, policy makers, NGOs, and the private sector in an effort to build a new vision for agriculture, forestry, and conservation in the United States. Much of what the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative is attempting to accomplish on an international level, Solutions from the Land is moving ahead with in the U.S. context. Last Wednesday, a panel of thought and action leaders came together at a Farm Foundation Forum for the launch of this vision, a new report outlining the current state, challenges, and path forward for land use and land policies.

Both in the report and during the discussion, a theme of moving past 20th century models that still pit agriculture against environment came through strongly. Panelist and rancher, Pat O’Toole, mentioned that this year is the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act, which marks a remarkable story of people overcoming difficult odds in the American west. And yet, he voiced concern that this story may come to an end if we don’t have a vision for the future. So what is this 21st century vision? For Solutions from the Land, it is one in which agricultural productivity can increase while landscapes continue to provide the full range of ecosystem services. It is one in which land managers are supported for using resources efficiently and for their stewardship of ecosystems. It will be one in which communities can engage at the policy level, and that decisions will reflect the needs and priorities of the multiple stakeholders.

Cassie Phillips, Vice President of Sustainable Forestry at Weyerhaeuser, concluded by advocating a move “from a paradigm of black-and-white production lands to a more integrated paradigm.” That is what Solutions from the Land offered in the report and hopes to inspire with continued dialogue and collaboration.


A webcast of the event is available online.

Read the full report.

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