I’ve had the pleasure? recently of contemplating land use, conservation, and budgets: working with a company for whom pristine land keeps their costs down but whose vast land resource appears to create in the short term a way to keep user fees down (by selling said land). Since keeping said user fees down is mandated by law….the end result is that as long as all costs associated with the land are paid for by the land, the land is tolerated. (That without the land, the user fees would go through the roof is politically inconvenient and thus ignored, also ignored is that without the land the resource in question would be a good deal scarcer….). It does, however, demonstrate that land can ‘pay its way’. If you own enough that is and the taxes don’t go up.
Then there are the families, maybe all of retirement age, who want to do something else. A hundred odd acres of prime land for sale, some of the nicest I’ve seen. (not in any way connected with this family) Conservation would be nice, cash would be nicer and is necessary. Can one really blame them? I don’t know. I have to admit, looking at those acres; that I would prefer to see them actively managed. We can’t afford a land use pattern split solely between houses and untouched open space. Not here at least. It doesn’t work either ecologically or financially.
But somehow, we have lost the idea of active land stewardship. Maybe because, aside from a gargantuan scale, the finances don’t work (take care of the land, it takes care of you), maybe it is cultural. Not mind you that we need subsistence farming for the majority, I’ve studied enough history to know that ‘nasty, brutish, and short’ doesn’t have a romantic bone in it. Though it has a lot of bones. But the great British estates (Clearances aside!!) are an interesting model. Except they sort of need an expansionist empire….
I have it. Land conservation requires the space programme! 🙂