What is land use and why is it important?
We use land to produce food, fibre, timber and
energy – things we depend upon for our existence. The way our
use of the land is managed directly influences our environment -
from the character of the landscape to wildlife and natural
Rural land use is about more than just producing food and
timber. It provides jobs for the people who live there - an
economic basis for rural communities that influences the quality of
life of those people.
The relationships between farming, forestry, local communities
and the environment have changed over recent decades. Rural
land management practices have become more intensified and more
specialised. These changes have been linked to declines
in biodiversity - the range of species to be found - as well as
reductions in soil and water quality. We have also seen
a fall in the numbers employed in agriculture and forestry,
with a significant effect on many rural communities.
Why have these changes come about? They have probably been
driven by a combination of factors, including:
- the effect of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
- technological advances
- changing consumer patterns
- more demanding societal expectations
Increasingly, issues such as market globalisation, climate
change and public expectations of the countryside will add to the
pressures on traditional rural industries and communities.
CCW is a member of an inter-agency group, the Land Use Policy
Group, or LUPG. Through this group we try to
improve understanding of current policy mechanisms at EU
level and to develop common views on how they can be