Human development and well being is dependent on the health of our natural environment. We use natural resources to power our economic and social development and rely on numerous ecosystem services to ensure a continuously healthy planet. Ecosystem services include:
But we only have one planet and we are already living beyond our means, using natural resources at a level that cannot be maintained over time. The way in which we are exploiting these resources is also causing long-term irreversible damage – the critical services they provide are being affected, and the consequences of this are unknown.
In order to ensure our long term survival we must make decisions that keep us within our environmental limits i.e. the levels beyond which the environment is unable to accommodate human impacts without causing unacceptable or irreversible change.
In the UK there is a finite amount of land and many competing demands on how it should be used. Land is needed for agriculture to supply our food, for space to build our houses, villages, towns and cities, for energy production and biodiversity and for industry and tourism, to name but a few.
The challenge for sustainable development is to manage land so as to integrate and maximise its economic, environmental and social value. We are currently working on projects that investigate:
If you have questions about the work of the SDC in this area or would like to contribute, please contact us.