Whether it’s converting forests to farmland or developing plains and deserts into renewable energy hubs, our needs for natural resources are on the rise. We need food and fiber to keep our bodies energized, and power to keep our homes, cars and businesses running. These demands coupled with a growing global population could signal tough times ahead for conservation. But, there is hope. We can meet the needs of people while keeping nature in mind.
The Nature Conservancy is already influencing the decisions of communities, governments and businesses as they look for more sustainable solutions. For instance, our science-based planning approach called Development by Design (DbD) is helping to create a blueprint for sustainable development in more than a dozen locations around the globe. As a result, government leaders in Mongolia and Colombia are including DbD principles in their licensing processes for future development—ensuring that development does not come at the expense of nature and local communities. Likewise, companies in the mining, energy and infrastructure industry are working with the Conservancy to pilot these same principles at locations in the U.S., Australia and Mongolia with the goal of limiting impacts on the environment and producing net gains for nature.
And in places like Brazil, Washington state and the Mississippi River Basin, we are working with farmers and ranchers to help incorporate sustainable agriculture practices—like guiding new production to already degraded lands, flooding fields to increase bird habitats and improve growing conditions, and influencing practices to improve river health –with the goal of finding solutions for how to sustainably harvest the food we need now and in the future.
But, companies, governments and communities are not the only ones who can make a difference—we can all support better land use through our purchases and our support of businesses and industries that are stewards of the lands they impact. There are solutions for meeting the needs of conservation and development, and we all have to be willing to make choices that will help achieve that balance.