Using Indirect Legislation to Protect Open Spaces and Farmland
The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies - The Center for Environmental Policy - Research Series No. 13 (2005)
7 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 25, 2015
Not all modern farmers have the deep connection to the land as their forefathers did. Under economic pressure, many are ready to give up a life of hard work for the promise of financial security that developers can provide. In an attempt to protect agricultural landscapes, numerous countries throughout the world use economic incentives and laws, but to no avail. Some farmers have changed their approach towards agriculture, switching from intensive/industrial farming to organic farming methods, but this change provides little economic comfort and has occurred on a relatively small number of farms. There has also been state interest in “primitive” farming methods as a method of preserving history and attracting tourism. Yet these efforts will not stay the flood of farmers leaving farmland to the mercy of bulldozers. Environmental NGO’s that try to stop the development of agricultural lands have limited resources at their disposal, and are seen by much of the public as being against progress and against farmers. The failure of existing methods of rural land preservation and the search for alternative methods produced the idea for this research paper — using existing legislation, not originally meant for the purpose of preserving farmland, to advance the protection of the rural landscape in agricultural areas. This study surveyed legislation from around the world and found many legislative acts that, if implemented correctly, could help stop the destruction of the rural landscape. The laws can be divided into two groups — general purpose laws and laws with a specific purpose. Both can be adapted to protecting agricultural land.
Laws with a specific purpose protect specific areas. Those areas could be interpreted to include agricultural areas. For example, animal and plant habitats, flood plains, ground water enrichment areas, forests, areas of historical, religious or archaeological significance, wetlands, coastal zones, buffer zones, areas along rivers and springs, and land used for sludge and effluent disposal. General purpose laws include laws for soil conservation and for protecting biodiversity. Drainage laws are an important example of non-specified legislation. Drainage laws around the world are meant to protect areas from flooding and to prevent soil erosion. They therefore give the appropriate government officials the power to declare flood zones around streams, lakes, and other bodies of water. Applied correctly, these laws could preserve acres of agricultural land. Since agricultural land, if farmed correctly, would in most cases suffer only minor damage from flooding or perhaps even benefit, setting aside a large area of agricultural land as a flood plain would benefit the flood prevention law and leave a rural landscape undisturbed for future generations to enjoy.
Keywords: land, economic, agricultural, farmers, law, NGO, environmental
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