“Solutions from the Land” Launched

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On March 6, a broad group of collaborators, significantly drawn from leaders of the 25x’25 Bio-Energy Coalition but including representatives of several other organizations, formally announced creation of a project called Solutions from the Land and released its 45-page Pathways Report. This Report, subtitled “Developing a New Vision for United States Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation,” expresses the Vision: “In 2050, U.S. farmers, ranchers, and foresters manage land to produce the food, fiber and energy needed to support a growing population and economy, while simultaneously protecting and improving biodiversity and the health of the environment.”

The Report presents a case for harmonizing all of these various demands on the land—posing that they need not exist as conflicting, or even competing, interests—by seeking synergies and proposing such measures as commoditizing ecosystem benefits (such as watershed protection). Much of the Report narrates the success of local programs (such as Missouri’s “Show Me Energy Cooperative” and “The Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project”), which suggest profit motives can support ecological restoration.

What’s next? At the Report’s March 6 launch, presentors stressed the importance of broadening dialogue about the issues the Solutions from the Land project raises, to build acceptance—both among obvious “stakeholders” and segments of the broader public—for treating commodity and sustainability values as intrinsically complementary elements within one “basket.” Reforming federal and state regulatory apparatuses may be on the agenda eventually, but for now, the group says it wants to “facilitate a national conversation” and “to recruit champions and change agents who will proactively advocate for the policy, market, and institution reform necessary to achieve our vision.” More at www.sfldialogue.net.