Everything we need for our survival depends either directly, or indirectly, on the land and its ecosystems. Think food, water, and clean air. The land also supports our health and wellbeing through less obvious ways, like recreation and culture, and sequestering carbon.
It is a simple principle – everything we need for our survival depends either directly, or indirectly, on the land and its ecosystems. Think food, water, and clean air.
The land also supports our health and wellbeing through less obvious ways, like recreation and culture, and through sequestering carbon.
Sustainably managed farmland not only feeds us, but also provides several other invaluable ecosystem services, such as pollinator and wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and water regulation. The capacity of farmland to continue to provide these services beneficial to our collective wellbeing depends on two factors: the availability of the farmland and the quality of the soil on the available farmland.
Thus, preserving and protecting our natural assets, including agricultural land, is critical.
When we imagine the land, we often think of physical features like soil and vegetation. It is, however, much more than that. Lifeforms on the land and in the soil, form a complex web of organisms that are the basis of our ecosystems and integral to all life on earth.
Natural heritage commonly refers to geological features such as mountains and rivers as well as flora and fauna that make up our ecosystems. All over the world our natural assts are under threat. Since 1990, 420 million hectares of forest have been lost and 28,000 species are currently at risk of extinction.
Farmland too is an essential resource. Here in Northumberland, as everywhere, we all rely on agriculture, from the food we eat to the jobs in our communities. Yet every day in Ontario, we lose 319 acres of farmland.
Locally there are practical and emerging ways of sustaining the land, including important natural features like healthy fertile soil, forests, and watersheds.
There are those who are working to protecting natural heritage assets – nature in its natural form – including forests, wetlands, and other areas that support habitats and our natural ecosystems. Some are prioritizing conservation and focus on minimizing or eliminating harm to the land and monitoring the health of soils, habitats, and watersheds. Others are prioritizing restoration or regeneration and focus on improving the health of ecosystems to increase biodiversity and to make them more resilient.
Meanwhile, there are also many working to preserving farmland, including farmers themselves exploring and implementing sustainable farming practices and protecting their oil to sustain their productivity and those who are working to ensure we don’t lose more prime agricultural land to other uses, including development.
Learn more about the difference between conservation and regeneration:
Learn more about biodiversity and why it matters:
Learn more about the most common threats to natural heritage:
Sustainability is a complex and evolving concept and best understood today as a movement to find a balance between the environment, equity, and the economy.
Each community needs to determine how this will look for themselves based on their local characteristics and the needs of residents.
We encourage our Northumberland community to ask and answer the question: How do we reduce our ecological footprint while enhancing our social wellbeing and maintaining our economic viability?
There is a growing awareness, globally and locally, of the environmental and societal challenges we currently face, however, there is little societal or political consensus on what to do and how quickly to act. Our network recommends a bottoms-up approach with solutions emerging from within each community contributing to our shared future.
Locally, individuals, businesses, and organizations bring a range of perspectives, responses, resources, and commitment to the sustainability challenges we face. Each may be located at different points of the sustainability spectrum, each action adding up to broader change across Northumberland.