College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Kenneth F. S. King: "Land Utilization in Developing Economies"

Land Utilization in Developing Economies

Kenneth F. S. King

Given at Berkeley, California, March 8, 1979

It is to my mind right and proper that a topic such as "land utilization in developing economies" should form the subject of one of the Horace Albright Lectureships. The fact that you have asked me to come here to speak on this subject, as part of a series which is devoted to conservation, is evidence to me of two things.

First, it indicates your awareness that the problems of conservation often transcend national boundaries, and indeed that some of them might intrinsically be international in scope and in dimension.

Second, and perhaps more important in the context in which I intend to speak, it hopefully illustrates your realization that the problems of conservation, the problems of the wise use of land resources (indeed of any natural resource) are inextricably connected with developmental issues. The problems of conservation are linked to, flow from, and are dependent upon such factors as the social and economic goals of governments and nations, the desired rates of economic growth of particular countries, the quality of both the socio-economic and physical infrastructure which exist in a country, the political ideology of the people and government of the countries the resources of which it is intended to conserve, the land tenure situation prevailing in these societies, and on the stage of social and economic evolution that has been reached in those countries.

This concept of the interdependence and interplay of apparently unrelated factors is central to my theme. I wish therefore to emphasize it at the outset. The problems of conservation in general, and of land-utilization in particular, cannot be considered in vacuo. They cannot be overcome merely by isolating, and analyzing, and treating only the physical and biological aspects of particular problems. They must be conceived as arising from a system which, in addition to the physical and biological, embraces the social, the economic, the historical, and the political.

The conservation of natural resources and the utilization of land are too important to a nation's development, too all-pervasive in their effects on a nation's social and economic evolution to be left to conservationists and land-utilization specialists. The gamut of disciplines that are relevant to development, the full range of developmental expertise must be involved in the formulation of conservation and land-utilization policies, in the drawing up of land-utilization plans, and in the implementation of such plans and policies.

Both the developed and the developing worlds have problems of conservation and of land-utilization. But the difficulties which beset the developing economies are more pernicious, less tractable, and are actually and potentially more disastrous than those that are found and experienced in the developed economies. And this, not because of any intrinsic incapacities in tropical land resources and not because of any intrinsic disabilities in tropical man. No, in general, and on a global scale, the problems of land-utilization in developing economies are caused by the very nature of underdevelopment. The ease with which the developed countries solve their land-utilization problems, when compared to the failure of the developing countries to solve theirs, is a function of the stage of the evolutionary development of their economics and is not a function of the physical and biological factors that are relevant to plant and animal production that are to be found in the developing and developed world. I repeat, and I hope that I shall be able to demonstrate this, that it is a function of socio-economic development.

It is often forgotten that most of the developing countries have not been politically independent for more than thirty years or so. It is also often not appreciated that the legacy of colonialism, from which these countries escaped a short three decades ago, was "not only meager in value and in content, but was in many respects debilitating. After more than sometimes five hundred years of continuous occupation in some cases, rates of illiteracy were high; there were very few primary schools; there was little or no technical education; there were inadequate facilities, if there were any at all, for secondary level and university education; in general, economic and social infrastructure was poor: few harbours, low supplies of electric power, and, in many countries, no industrial development whatever" (King, 1977).

There has been much progress since then. Indeed, McNamara (1977) has pointed out that the average per capita income of the Third World grew at over 3 per cent per annum between 1950 and 1975; life expectancy increased from 40 to 50 years in these countries during the same period; the developing countries now produce a little more food for each person in their countries than they did in 1950 - this, in spite of the rapid growth of their populations; in 1950, 64 million children received primary education, but in 1975 the figure had leapt to 260 million; and in the 25 years between 1950 and 1975 the number of students registered in secondary and higher educational institutions rose from 7 million to 65 million; and in 1950 only 33 per cent of the people in the developing world could read and write, while in 1975 the number of literates had risen to about 50 per cent. Although the developing countries are often not given the credit they deserve, I submit that the achievements which I have just listed are not without significance.

Be that as it may, it is my conviction that the benefits which have accrued to the inhabitants of the developing countries through the utilization of their land resources are derisory and disappointing. It is also my conviction that the progress that has been made in tropical land utilization has been desultory and dismal.

Let us examine the position with respect to the two great land-using sectors: agriculture and forestry. Borlaug (197 1) and Dalrymple (1972) have asserted that the advances that have been made in the development, dissemination and adaptation of new agricultural technology in the developing world have been unprecedented. They implied then that the "green revolution," as it used to be called, was the main answer to tropical agricultural development. They predicted the rapid spread of new varieties of wheat, maize and rice to areas of the Third World in which they could be adapted. Indeed, they saw the relatively early eradication of grain deficits in the developing economies.

I do not wish to denigrate the very real and important achievements which have been made through the breeding of new varieties of wheat and rice. Nor do I wish to minimize their possible positive contribution to agricultural productivity in the developing world. Nevertheless, despite its scale neutrality, the "green revolution" tends to benefit the richer farmer. It requires relatively intensive inputs of fertilizer and therefore, in many cases, the varieties cannot be efficiently utilized by the poorer peasant. Moreover, they can be used mainly in areas that are well-endowed with water. As a consequence, again the benefits tend to accrue to the richer land-user, and aggravates income disparities.

Moreover, the necessity for reasonable supplies of water makes these varieties unsuitable for drier, and areas. As a consequence, their production in wet lands leads to an inequitable distribution of economic activity in the developing countries.

I hasten to emphasize that I am not suggesting that these new varieties should not be planted in the developing world. I wish merely to stress that they should not be considered to be the only or the main answer to tropical land-use in agricultural development. My special purpose, however, in drawing attention to the 11 green revolution" is to repeat a principle: in devising and implementing land-utilization schemes all the ramifications of particular acts should be taken into account.

Despite the fact of the adoption and utilization of these newer varieties by many of the richer farmers in the Third World, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that the number of people in the developing world who are underfed and are malnutrient is still rising, and was, in 1978, of the order of 550 million. The fact remains that throughout the developing world valuable tropical high forests are being razed to the ground because of the categorical imperative of more land for food. The fact remains that in the arid zones of the underdeveloped world destructive land-use practices are being followed because, given the existing economic conditions, they are the only means of acquiring food. The fact remains that mountain ecosystems are being ravaged, and the nurturing and conserving forests raped, not because the inhabitants do not understand the principles of conservation, but because they work to eat, to live, to conserve themselves.

These malpractices in land-use, these repeated failures to conserve varying types of ecosystems throughout the world will continue unless there is genuine development, unless means of securing food from other sources are made available, or unless other types of land-use that are designed to produce food and at the same time to conserve fragile ecosystems are devised and perfected.

The situation with respect to the contribution of tropical forests to the development of the peoples who inhabit countries and areas that are endowed with forests is even more reprehensible.

About 55 percent of the world's forests is located in the tropics in which most of the developing countries are situated, but in recent years the value of exports of wood and wood products from tropical countries was only about 15 per cent of the world's trade in these products. Finland the Congo have land areas and forest estates of approximately the same size. Yet today the value of forest products from Finland is sixty times greater than that from the Congo. Latin America has more than five hectares of forest land per person, compared with a world average of about one hectare per person. Yet the region imports more timber products, in terms of value, than it exports.

That fact is that, in general, despite the existence of large areas of valuable forests in the developing countries, the forest resource contributes relatively little to the economies. Most developing countries, even those that are liberally endowed with wood raw material, have adverse balance of trade situations in the wood and wood products sector. Generally, those that do manage to maintain positive balances achieve this through the devastation of their forests and the sale of the wood raw material rather than processed articles.

So that the overall position with respect to tropical forests is that the manner in which they are exploited, either to provide land for the growth of food or sometimes to provide raw material removal of the protective cover of the forest vegetation, in accelerated erosion, in increased siltation and in higher incidences of floods and droughts. This ecological devastation is not compensated for by economic development. Raw materials are often underutilized, are frequently exported without any value being added in the country of origin through processing, and are in general wasted through bad management practices.

I have shown that the developing countries do not produce enough food to prevent large numbers of their peoples from suffering from hunger and malnutrition. I have tried to demonstrate that the forests contribute little or nothing to the peoples of the tropics. I have indicated that despite the failure to assist significantly in the attack on economic underdevelopment, resources are being squandered and wasted, ecosystems are being damaged, and raw material is not being conserved. And I have asserted that this tale of woe is caused neither by a shortage of resources nor by any deficiency in the quality of these resources. I have urged that the ills of tropical land-use are the symptoms of economic underdevelopment and that their solution should be sought in the general attack on underdevelopment.

What are the facts?

The most authoritative studies (FAO, 1969; and U.S. Rep, 1967) that are available to me to the food production possibilities of the world, indicate that of the world's total area of 13, 150 million hectares, the area of potentially arable land is the order of 3, 190 million hectares, or just over 24 per cent of the total land surface of the earth. However, at present only 1,400 million hectares, or 44 percent of the "potentially arable land" of the world, are being cultivated. It appears to follow from this that if all the land described as "potentially arable" were put under cultivation, food production would be more than doubled, even if there were no improvements in existing farming practices. Indeed, it has been estimated (Wückenhausen, 1975) that if there were improvements in production techniques through, for example, the utilization of higher yielding varieties of plants, and through the addition of fertilizers and the provision of adequate irrigation facilities, the world would be able to feed ten times the existing world population. This conclusion has been supported by other workers (see E. G. Heady, 1976).

It seems to me that if we are to conclude from this type of information that all the people in the developing world who are now malnourished and hungry would, in the future, be adequately fed, if indeed they would not be too well-fed, we would be in danger of arriving at a fallacious conclusion (King, 1978).1

I do not say this because I challenge the data and the prognostications on which they are based. I say this because I am convinced that those who display such misplaced optimism have not recognized the fact, or have learned little or nothing from the fact that even today the world is capable of producing enough food for all mankind but, perhaps with good economic and political justification, high-yielding lands are taken out of production, and many still starve, and many are permanently physically and psychologically damaged because of improper and inadequate diets in early childhood. These people can only be assured of food if they have the economic power to buy it or if they can produce it themselves. The optimists also fail to recognize that the bulk of the "potentially arable land" is not located in those areas in which the present and future demand for food is greatest, and for which they prescribe costly imputs of fertilizer and irrigation. Again, these people can only be assured of food if they have the economic power to buy it or if they evolve a system of land management which will enable them to produce food in perpetuity in fragile ecosystems.

Thirty-six per cent (or 1, 148 million hectares) of the world's total area of "potentially arable land" is to be found in the developed world. The population of these developed regions in 1970 was 1,084 million or 29 per cent of the world's total. The developed world therefore possesses now a larger amount of arable land per unit of population than the developing countries. The United Nations Organization has forecast that by the year 2000 the population of the developed countries will have increased to 1,368 million, while that of the developing countries will have risen from 2,537 million in 1970 to 5,039 million in the year 2000. In 2000, therefore, the developing world, with 64 per cent of the world's "potentially arable land," will be required to feed 79 per cent of the world's population.

This they could do, as we have seen, in a physical, biological sense. But to achieve this they would need vast amounts of money for irrigation and fertilizers to produce the food; and they would require enormous sums of money to establish the infrastructure to distribute the food to those who need it most; and they would probably have to subsidize the sales of food so produced if those who needed it most would be able to buy it.

There must therefore be general overall economic development, including industrial development. We cannot concentrate on the land-utilization sectors, the agriculture and forestry sectors to the neglect of the others. We cannot concentrate on the "potentially arable land" and neglect the fragile ecosystems.

In Africa, in Asia and in Latin America there are somewhat large concentrations of land, which comprise 4,900 million hectares or about 65 per cent of the land in the tropical world, which may be described as fragile ecosystems. The number of people who depend upon these areas for their food and livelihood is 630 million, or 35 per cent of the total population of the developing countries. The people who live in these areas are, on average, poorer than those who live in other parts of their already poor countries. They are thus the poorest of the world's poor.

These areas cannot be farmed in the conventional sense without drastic and often irreversible degradation of the sites, but as we have seen they must support significant numbers of people now and in the foreseeable future, unless there is a rapid and radical change in their economic status. The efficient utilization of these marginal lands would not only increase their productivity and thus improve the living conditions of those who inhabit them, it would also minimize the incidence of desertification and erosion, reduce the occurrence of floods and droughts, and therefore assist in the maintenance and improvement of agricultural production in those areas that are inherently arable, and that, in some cases, are far removed from the marginal lands.
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Because the plans which have been formulated for the utilization of land in the developing economies have generally been unsuccessful, and because many of the land-use practices which have been implemented on the advice of visiting economic and scientific experts have failed palpably, there is a tendency in many circles to doubt and to challenge the relevance of science and economics to the problems of tropical land-use.

The causes of the catastrophes which have occurred in the developing countries over the years should not be attributed to the failure of science and economics. On the contrary, they be I attributed to our failure properly to apply scientific approaches to land-use, and to our failure to adapt the principles of science to the specific conditions which prevail in the developing economies. It is not that the principles of economics have little or no relevance to land-use planning, to the allocation of the various factors of production. It is that we have erred in the application of those principles, we have not truly understood how to apply those principles to the particular socio-political philosophy which the government of this or that country follows. And we have not fully grasped the importance of adapting our knowledge to the specific socio-political stage of the evolutionary process of the particular country for which we purport to plan. We have tended to ignore the human dimension. We have, more often than not, forgotten the people.

We have also assumed that the values of the North are acceptable by, and should be imposed upon, the South. We have transferred our own values to the peoples whom we have been called upon to advise, and have not deigned to consider their particular hopes and motivations.

I think it would be useful, therefore, to reconsider the principles of land-utilization. Let us assume that the utilization of land in the developing economies will be based on some sort of planning. It is conventional, in such circumstances, to draw up a plan.

It is important to distinguish between land capability classifications and land-use plans. They are different, though complementary, processes. Land classification is simply the systematic arrangement into classes of different types of land according to their inherent capacity to produce crops or to carry animals, or to perform a combination of such functions, "The object of land classification is to distinguish what exists, and to enable the planner to appreciate the differences in quality of the land at his disposal. Land classification is the foundation in which good land-use planning rests. It indicates, in an easily understandable manner, the potentiality of the land, and it categorizes the differences between different areas of land. To this background of knowledge, the planner should add his knowledge of the economic, legal, social and institutional factors which affect land-use, and which are germane to decision-making. From this synthesis a land-use plan may be born." (King, 1968)

The purpose of the type of land capability about what I am speaking is, of course, the delimination of areas of a broadly similar nature, which are inherently capable of producing plant and animal crops, without deterioration of the soil.

Many of the classifications which have been made of land in the tropics, and consequently much of the land-use in that zone, particularly with respect to exotic crops and hitherto unpracticed systems of management, have not been based on evidence which has been gained as a result of observation and research. Many of the land classifications that are extant are based on a blind extrapolation of a mixture of principles and performances that have been evolved and observed in other climes. These are often valid and applicable at the ends of the spectrum of land classes: on the best sites and on the unproductive sites. However, their validity in other parts of the spectrum, and especially in brittle ecosystems, cannot be assumed and must be tested.

It is not that science has failed the land classifiers. It is that we have failed to follow the basic principles of science. There are too many of us at work in the developing countries, who do not understand the scientific method, and who, in our haste, merely regurgitate the data we have picked up in different situations and in different climes.

Many of the land classifications that have been made in the developing countries have not been founded on thorough research.2 We have not yet built up a body of principles which will permit us to propound a general theory of land classification. And yet, the number of classes proposed for the tropics by the various experts, and the types of these classes, bear such remarkable similarity to, and are so consistent with those that have been tried in the temperate world, that I am led to believe that many are convinced that a general theory has indeed been formulated.

Do not misunderstand me. I do not assert that we do not know that we must take into account the inter-actions of climate, topography and soil, for example, in assessing the land's inherent capability. We know that we ought to do this. My case is that we have not yet observed in as many cases as are required the effects of various practices on the land, we have not tested adequately the hypotheses that have often been wrongly brought from the North, and we have failed to undertake the necessary research on land systems and land-uses.

You will have noted that I stressed three things in the definition: that what we are classifying is the land's inherent capacity; that the classification presupposes that there be no deterioration of the site through use; and that the individual classes must be assessed, not only on their capacity for single use, or single sub-sector use, but also on their ability to carry a combination of crops and/or animals at the same time.

I emphasize that in classifying land we should consider only its "natural" or "inherent" capability to produce, its capacity to yield crops or to carry animals. We should not consider at this stage any inputs which might increase yields or indeed permit other types of land-use. What we desire to gain through land classification is knowledge of what exists. The assessment of the impact of inputs such as fertilizers and water, and of special land-use practices such as terracing, should be done at the planning stage.

Sound land-use should always aim at maintaining or improving the fertility of the soil, in order that yields may be sustained or increased. Accordingly, the definition of land classification insists that one of the bases of comparison is that the site should not deteriorate as a result of the recommended use. This applies, again, only to the classification, to the inventory of assets, so to speak. It does not imply that it might not be acceptable policy, in certain circumstances, to liquidate the assets either for future gain or for some other benefit. These sorts of decisions should, however, be made at the time of formulating the plan, and should not be permitted to obfuscate the assessment of physical characteristics of the land that is being classified.

The definition also stressed that the classification should indicate the land's ability to carry crops and/or animals in combination. However, almost all of the classifications which I have examined seemed to have predicated on the utilization of a unit of land by a single crop, or by a rotation of single crops. It is true that it is very often acknowledged that land of the highest quality is suitable for almost all types of land-use. Nevertheless, even under these conditions, the normal assumption on which the classification are based is single-use. If, for example, intercropping is indeed practiced, the decision to do so would have been made on economic and social grounds, and not because the physical characteristics of the site dictated some form of multiple cropping or intercropping, with trees as a constant component.

And yet, there is some evidence which suggests that the optimum land-use, in a physical sense, for certain categories of tropical land, is a system which combines the simultaneous production of agriculture and tree crops, or which carries vege-tation that is structured in a multi-storeyed manner. These types of systems maintain the inherent fertility of the site, and tend to sustain yields more efficiently.

Much research needs to be conducted to test the validity of these claims, but the physiognomy of certain "natural" ecosystems indicates that in some ecologically brittle environments the most suitable land-use ought to provide a many layered cover to the soil. If that is so, systems which combine the simultaneous production of both agricultural and forestry crops, or agroforestry systems as they are called, might be the most profitable.

But here again, as always, the economic factors should be considered at the planning stage. Suffice it to say that the multi-purpose utilization of tropical land scold not only be seen as an economic proposition, but should be examined and investigated with a view to ascertaining whether the physical characteristics of certain classes of land do not necessitate that they be utilized under a system such as agroforestry, whether we should not have a class of land in the tropics, unknown in temperate classification systems, which reads: "Suitable only for systems of land-use (such as agroforestry) which maintain multi-storeyed structures.

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Agroforestry has been defined as a "sustainable land management system which increases the yield of the land, combines the production of crops (including tree crops) and forest plants and/or animals simultaneously or sequentially, on the same unit of land, and applies management practices that are compatible with the cultural practices of the local population. (Bene et al., 1977; King and Chandler 1978)

This definition gives, of course, a general idea of agroforestry. However, not surprisingly, because of the very nature of definitions, it does not spell out the ramifications of the subject. Accordingly, I propose to spend a few moments in attempting to expand on the definition. I hope, in doing this, not only to clarify the concept, but also to accommodate the plethora of descriptive terms which are often used in this field, and which sometimes tend to confuse rather than to explain.

Agroforestry is a generic term which embraces the following components:

Agri-silviculture - the conscious and deliberate use of land for the concurrent production of agricultural crops (including tree crops) and forest crops. The agricultural and forest crops must be in intimate mixture.

Sylvopastoral systems - These are land management systems in which forests are managed for the production of wood as well as for the rearing of domesticated animals. It should be noted that in this system the animals are kept and are permitted to graze within the forests. Sylvopastoral systems should therefore be distinguished from systems in which forage (either herbaceous or shrubby) is grown in mixture with forest trees, but is harvested for feeding elsewhere. These latter systems are properly agri-silvicultural systems.

Agro-sylvo-pastoral systems - systems in which land is managed for the concurrent production of agricultural and forest crops and for the rearing of domesticated animals. This system is, in effect, a combination of agri-silviculture and the sylvopastoral system.

Multipurpose forest tree production systems - here forest tree species are regenerated and managed for their ability to produce not only wood, but leaves and/or fruit that are suitable for food and/or fodder.

In all agroforestry land management systems there are two essential and related aims: the systems should conserve and improve the site, and at the same time optimize the combined production of a forest crop and an agricultural crop.

As I have said, the areas which we suggest should be utilized for agroforestry are generally not suitable for conventional agriculture either because their soils are inherently infertile, or they are prone to accelerated erosion or compaction, or the climatic conditions are too extreme for "normal" plant growth, or because of a combination of where factors. The normally recommended type of land-use for areas such as I have described is forestry, pure forestry. And this for several reasons.

There are many species of tree which can be grown on poor soils. This is chiefly because trees exist in what may be described as a closed self-sustaining cycle. They absorb the available nutrients from various layers of the soil; convert these nutrients into plant material; release these nutrients back to the soil through the deposition of leaves, twigs, branches and so on, thereby replenishing it; and yet again they absorb more nutrients from the soil, beginning another round of the cycle. This almost never ending recurrence Of uptake, deposition, uptake and deposition maintains and in many cases improves the fertility of the soil.

In addition, well-managed tropical forests tend to have a multi-storeyed structure. The crowns of the trees of the forest thus provide several lines of defense against rain. The impact of the rain on the soil is therefore reduced, and the possibility of soil compaction is minimized. Moreover, because of the litter and humic layers that are to be found on the surface of the soil, the impact of the falling water is further reduced, and most of the water which reached the soil surface percolates into the ground beneath. As a consequence, in the heavy rains, the forests tend to reduce run-off and therefore decrease the incidence of floods; the water which had been absorbed during the rains is slowly released in the dry seasons thus helping to decrease the incidence of droughts.

The forests perform yet another useful function. They improve the micro-climate, this is, the climate within the forests and adjacent to them.

Unfortunately, the people who live in these areas for which the conventional land utilization wisdom prescribes that only protection forests be established there, find it difficult to subsist on the forests alone. In addition to their need for wood for cooking and heating, they require food. Indeed, the demand for food is often the dominant imperative in these societies. Also, where they are pastoralists, there is a further demand for fodder for their animals. Moreover, even if they were prepared to depend entirely on the forests, because the forests have to be created, to be established from scratch in these mismanaged ecosystems, they cannot afford to wait during the long period between planting the trees and harvesting the wood, in which there are no realizable physical and monetary returns.

It therefore seems necessary to attempt to devise and perfect a system of land management, which eschews the false dichotomy of agriculture and forestry, which conserves the ecosystem, and which at one and the same time provides food and wood. Such a system is agroforestry. The system is also superior to traditional forest plantation systems, in a socio-economic sense, in that it provides intermediate returns from the food crops which are interplanted between the rows of the trees, or from fodder crops, or from animals which are permitted to graze among the trees. Also, (and this illustrates another aspect of agroforestry) if, as I have said, the tree species are chosen not merely because of the quality of the wood, but also because, for example, their leaves and fruit are edible, an additional advantage flows from the system.

I turn now to the planning stage of the exercise. We will assume that the land has been properly classified, and that what is now required is a scheme for achieving a desired objective through the utilization of the land. There are therefore two basic considerations in land-use planning: the objective of the plan, and the way in which the objective is to be achieved.

Deciding on the objective is one of the most important aspects of land-use planning, indeed of any kind of planning; and the correct choice is not as easy as it appears is generally assumed. The objective will depend upon a mix of factors, some political, some social, some economic, and some physical. Moreover, the weight to be given to these factors will, of course, vary in time and in place. Nevertheless, it is essential that certain information be collected and analyzed for there to be some basis for deciding on the objectives.

In order to make this important decision, a survey of the economic and social resources of the country should be conducted in order that an estimate of the country's needs might be made. The minimum data that are necessary are "present population and its distribution (by location and age classes), present labour force and its deployment, trends in population and labour force growth, per capita income, consumption trends of the various land-produced commodities, both for the internal and export markets, and the supply possibilities" (King, 1968). A judgment of the overall growth that could arid should be achieved should also be made. It is therefore imperative that the needs and possible contribution of sectors of the economy, other than those concerned with land-use, be also evaluated. Land-use planning should not be conducted in a vacuum.

These data and information will assist the decision-makers in choosing the objective of the plan which will, as I have said, undoubtedly be influenced by the political ideology of the government concerned and by the stage of the country's development. Nevertheless, certain guidelines have been put forward.

It has been proposed that plans should be designed "to achieve the highest suitable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living in the countries" (OECD, 1960). It has also been suggested that the goal may be chosen from the following: maximization, i.e. getting the most out of the land; sustained productivity, i.e. keeping the land at an optimum level of productivity over time; rationing - in the case of exhaustible but unrenewable soil resources it may become necessary to restrict present use in the interest of rationing the resource, and there may therefore be a maximum level of use beyond which the present generation cannot go without infringing future satisfactions; and the substitution of the production factors of land, capital, labour and management for each other so that a particular amount of production may be achieved (Schaller and Timmons, 1956).

These are all very commendable and each no doubt has been chosen as a goal, from time to time, by particular countries. It does seem to me, however, that two objectives of land-use plans which might be pursued by almost all developing countries, to the benefit of their rural poor and of their general economies, are the attainment of an equitable distribution of income among the population, and the achieving of an equitable distribution of economic activity in the various countries for which the plan is being formulated.

I have not been able to find these objectives in the relevant literature. This is perhaps not surprising, because planning and directing the use of land in order to achieve a measure of social justice is often anathema to the ruling elite of the developing countries, and, perhaps more important is frequently unacceptable to, and beyond the economic comprehension of, those international experts who advise the developing countries on these matters. For the truth is that the pursuit of these social goals often results, at least in the short-run, in a reduction of monetary profits.

As you are aware, the doctrine of economic growth was until recently a sacosanct concept which was blindly followed by most planners. It was believed that if developmental projects which yielded acceptable profits were implemented, the profits could be used for further development, and the benefits of these several projects would eventually "trickle down" to the poorest of the poor: they would receive employment, their standards of living would rise, and the State would be in a better position to provide them with educational and health facilities and all the social and physical infrastructure that is considered basic in the modern world.

Unfortunately, it did not work in many countries. The rich became richer and the poor got poorer. It therefore behooves us to attempt to redress the balance in all our economic activities, and one way to do this is by directing our land-use to these specific objectives.

It must be admitted, however, that sometimes the projects which attain these social benefits yield relatively low or even marginal rates of economic return. This is because the developmental infrastructure is generally not as good in rural areas as in urban, and also because the equitable spread of economic activity and the equitable distribution of income might necessitate choosing locations and projects which are inferior to others in a strictly financial, non-social sense.

Now a society cannot meet the increasing demands of growing populations for all their developmental needs if it has to depend in aggregate and continuously on projects which yield minimal returns. It is therefore essential that the mix of projects in the entire economy yields rates of return that will permit further investment. I repeat, therefore, that land-use plans should not be formulated in a vacuum. They should form part of the general development plan. It should also be remembered that often the alleviation of hunger and the removal of pressure from a brittle resource might be achieved through the creation of other economic opportunities; industrialization, for example.

You will recall that I stated that policies and plans which had the maximization of economic growth as their sole or primary objective were often ineffective in alleviating the misery and enhancing the welfare of the poor, particularly of the rural poor. Nevertheless, I do not agree with those who advocate "no growth" policies. The unblinkered and unsocial pursuit of growth, for growth's sake, must be condemned. The failure to adopt measures which would lead to the economic development of the neglected areas of this world is reprehensible and must be condemned. However, the modern habit of totally abandoning a doctrine, or refraining from pursuing a practice, which, if regulated and not allowed to become obsession, could considerably assist in development, merely because its implementation has been defective, merely because it has not worked as predicted, must also be condemned. There must be overall economic growth, and at the same time, social objectives must be formulated and vigorously pursued.

There is one other aspect of land-use planning to which I should now like to refer. Many of you will know that the commercial banks, and even the international lending agencies, which finance agricultural development, have long insisted that there be forecast minimum rates of return before projects are approved. They have, certainly in the past, consistently ignored other developmental benefits. It is not my intention here to discuss the correctness of this approach. I wish, however, to suggest that in assessing the quantifiable benefits of some types of land-use, the experts of developing countries, particularly the foresters, have tended to ignore many which the land could yield. They have thus, even accepting the criteria of the banks, been denied investment capital because they have failed to appreciate, or failed to communicate to the lending agencies, the total product-mix to be gained from the land. Let me give you an example or two from forestry.

Foresters have for centuries been so obsessed with and mesmerized by the wood which they produce, that they generally do not consciously manage their forests for other tangible, saleable benefits. However, the forest eco-system contains and produces a not inconsiderable number of goods, other than wood, which can be commercially exploited. These are normally described by foresters as minor forest products! The terminology employed by the forestry profession is indicative of the peripheral regard it holds for these types of products. Yet, it can be demonstrated that in many cases, the financial yields that may be obtained from the non-traditional products of the forest ecosystem exceed those to be gained from the traditional. Moreover, these returns are normally achieved in shorter periods than those obtained through the growing of forest plantations for wood only, for example.

I therefore urge that the total productivity of the forest ecosystem, whether natural or artificial, be considered in planning the use of land for forestry: that in establishing forest plantations, species which are capable of yielding other products (for example leaves for fodder and food, fruit, resins, gums) in addition to wood be chosen; that in the establishment of forest plantations the land be utilized for the production of agricultural and forest crops; and that in managing the natural forests, all the bounty of the forest ecosystem be taken into account.

I have said elsewhere that "a land-use plan is not formulated merely by ascertaining the physical capacity of the land, and by deciding, through the use of economic criteria, the location and types of crops which should be grown. A plan's most important aspect is, perhaps, the recommendations which are made for its implementation" (King, 1968).

The methods of implementation which are used in most land-use plans may be classified as fiscal, institutional and legal. These are generally well-known, and I therefore do not intend to spend much time in discussing them. I wish, however, to address the few remarks I intend to make, specifically to the foresters.

First, I wish to remind them that many of the forest reserves which exist today were established without benefit of land capability classification and land-use plans. These blanket reservations cannot, therefore, in a world of want, in a world of hunger, all be considered sacrosanct and inviolable. The landless citizen should be permitted to farm in them on those sites which are suitable for arable agriculture. There must be safeguards, there must be protection of the forest estate, but the objective of these should be developmental and not restrictive. They should be positive and not negative.

Secondly, Forest Services should be restructured to permit the optimum development of the forest resources. Moreover, it should be recognized that these resources cannot be fully developed if Forest Services are staffed only by foresters. The efficient utilization of our forest resources demands a multi-disciplinary team. Other scientists, and economists and managers must therefore be included in your Services.

Third, Forest Officers should communicate more with rural inhabitants, even those who live and work outside the Forest Reserves. The benefits and practices of forestry should be imparted to them, and extension arms of the Forest Services established to assist the rural poor to grow trees for fuel, for food, for fodder and for wood for shelter.

Fourth, Forest Services should be geared to exploit, in a, sustained manner, the total ecosystem. Concentration on one type of forest product is a waste of resources which many countries cannot afford.

It follows from all this that the forest policies of most countries will have to be revised, their forest laws made developmental and not prohibitive, and their forest administrative rules and procedures drastically altered.

We live in a world in which there is an almost incessant wailing and gnashing of teeth. Man's positive influence on his environment is now almost never acknowledged. It is almost solely interpreted in terms of resource depletion, population explosion, and ecosystem degradation. The mood of our times is, almost invariably pessimistic, and also almost invariably anti-humanistic. On the pretext of wishing to help mankind, the purveyors of despondency formulate policies which are often, contemptuous of mankind.

The population of the world is increasing, and there is great malnourishment. But it is not true that there are insufficient resources on our planet to feed the hungry, and to develop the faculties of the indigent and the disadvantaged. It is not true that the basic crises of our times are caused by the fecundity of the poor of the developing world, whose very right to exist and to procreate is challenged even by 'liberal' Northerners. No, I suggest that the solution to what is one of the basic problems of our age is not to be found in the alarmist philosophies and prescriptions of those who often seek a transient popularity. Indeed, there is no one solution.

I am of the opinion, however, that there are two pre-requisites. The first essential requirement is that we must understand and appreciate that all economic activity should be undertaken with the welfare of people uppermost in our minds. The second basic requirement is the formulation and implementation of rational programmes of resource allocation. The land is one such resource. Indeed, for most of the people of the world, it is the most important resource. It is therefore incumbent upon us to use it wisely. Those of us who are responsible for planning its utilization and for managing its use have therefore a grave responsibility.


1 The analysis and discussion which follow rely heavily on King (1978).

2 The following analysis is based on King (1978a).


Borlaug, N.E. (1971). "Mankind and Civilization at Another Crossroad." McDougal Memorial Lectures, FAO Conference, Rome, 1971.

Dalrymple, D.E. (1972). "Imports and Plants of High Yielding Varieties of Wheat and Rice in the Less Developed Countries." FED Report No. 14, Foreign Economic Development Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

FAO (1969). Provisional Indicative World Plan for Agricultural Development, Rome.

Heady, E.O. (1976). "The Agriculture of the U.S." Scientific American, Vol. 235, No. 3.

King, K.F.S. (1968). "Land Capacity Classification and Land-use Planning with Special Reference to Tropical Regions." Proc. 6th World Forestry Congress, Madrid.

(1977). "The Forestry Sector and Economic International Relationships." The Weyerhauser Lectures, Toronto.

(1978). "Agroforestry." Paper presented to 50th Tropical Agricultural Day, Royal Tropical Institute, Holland.

(1978a). "Some Aspects of Land-use Planning.'' Paper presented to 8th World Forestry Congress, Jakarta.

and Chandler T.M. (1978). The Wasted Lands ICRAF, Nairobi.

McNamara, R.S. (1977), Address to the Board of Governors, IBRD.

Muckenhausen, E. (1973). "Die Produktionskapazitat der Boden der Erde" (Rheinisch-Westfalische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vortrage N234).

OECD (1960). The Convention of the Organization, Paris.

U.S. Report (1976). The World Food Problem. A Report of the President's Science Advisory Committee, Vol. 11, The White House, Washington, D.C.

Introducing: Kenneth F. S. King

Environmental Law is a discipline within the profession which has deepened and broadened, together with general public awareness of the importance of the environment and its treatment, in recent years. Joseph L. Sax has contributed much to discussion and analysis of the problems in the field. He is the first of the Albright lecturers to deal with the legal aspects of wildland use and brings a wide-ranging and keen intelligence to bear on the topic.

He was born in Illinois and received his J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1959. After a period of professional practice in Washington, D.C. and teaching in Colorado, he served as visiting professor at Boalt Hall, University of California at Berkeley, 1965-1966. He then became a member of the law faculty at the University of Michigan, and has served there with distinction to the present.

He has served on the board of legal advisers to the President's Council of Environmental Quality (1970-1972) and on the Environmental Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences (1970-1973); he is also a member of the Board of Directors, Environmental Law Institute and an active participant in the Conservation Foundation and the International Council on Environmental Law.

Dr. Sax has published several distinguished contributions on the subject of environmental law. Among other works he is the co-author of Water and Water Rights (196 7), Water Law, Planning and Policy (1968), and Defending the Environment (1971).