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Land

Land is fundamental to life as we know it. It provides the foundation for our homes, supports the production of food and forage, is our sole source of non-renewable natural resources, sustains wildlife and biodiversity, and offers diverse scenic and rustic environments for our personal enjoyment.

Yet, as we use land and its associated natural resources, we alter it. Growing populations and varied land use needs are leading to unprecedented changes that create often irreversible footprints on landscapes within ecosystems and in the environment.

Planning for the Future

Now more than ever, our finite land base is expected to support a greater number and variety of activities. Competing land uses, such as industrial growth, municipal expansion, infrastructure development, recreation, and conservation interests, have the potential to create conflict among users and stress the capacity of this valuable resource.

The need to ensure land, its associated resources and all the activities it sustains, is managed responsibly and sustainably has resulted in the development and application of an integrated, land use planning approach in both urban and rural communities.

Land use planning as defined by the Canadian Institute of Planners involves the “scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities.”

Within this land use planning concept, many tools and beneficial management practices (BMP’s) have been developed and implemented that provide options for integrated, sustainable development and use of land and the valuable natural capital it provides. Examples of just a few of these tools include:

  • Conservation and stewardship programs
  • Resource-specific beneficial management practices
  • Market-based instruments and incentives
  • Public engagement and outreach initiatives
  • Policy and legislation

The Benefits of Planning

Through the land use planning process communities also realize numerous benefits beyond their initial planning intentions. These benefits include:

  • Increased connection to and understanding of available resources,
  • Strengthened relationships between community stakeholders including government, industry and residents,
  • Enhanced capacity and technical skills,
  • A sense of ownership of and engagement in future development.

Get Involved

While an integrated approach to land use planning requires involvement and input from all levels of government, municipal governments in particular are extensively involved in land use issues and the development of land use plans for their rural and urban areas.

Individuals can also do their part; get involved in land use planning consultations, implement beneficial management practices on their own land, seek out and participate in conservation and stewardship programs and learn more about the local bylaws and regulations governing land use in their communities.

Sources

Photo credit Lois Gilchrist.

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Land

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Biodiversity

The Green Communities Guide provides helpful information and useful tools for developing and using our land resources wisely.