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Agricultural Land Trusts

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While it is one thing to acknowledge that shifts to plant-based agriculture could allow for the conservation of over a third of all arable land globally while actually increasing food production, it is an entirely different one to imagine how this transition might play out within current capitalist economies which encourage extraction and economic productivity. 

 

One strategy to encourage the necessary transitions towards plant-based systems in conjunction with increased conservation can be found in the land trust model. Land trusts are often non-profit organizations that hold land on behalf of place based communities to serve as long term stewards for social and environmental purposes. In the case of agricultural land trusts, nonprofits assume ownership of agricultural land in service of community in place of speculative private ownership. Pairing this model with an emphasis on shifting livestock-based systems to plant-based ones with an added ethos of conservation has the capacity to address environmental and social crises plaguing society today, from increasing climate change and biodiversity loss to the egregious levels of consolidation and inequality. 

 

To this end, Global Roots works to establish land trusts which shift privately held land used for livestock production into communal land trusts focusing on plant-based systems thereby increasing conservation and opportunities for farmers while explicitly working to expand on a global commons for biodiversity more broadly. Below is a simplified model for transitioning 100 acres of livestock producing land to plant-based systems and conservation as well as a model being applied in the Dominican Republic at the RAÍCES Institute.

100 Acres of Livestock
Agricultural Production

Rewilded Commons
 

Ninety-five percent of land used for livestock production could be rewilded with native plants to support biodiversity and provide spaces for outdoor recreation.

  • Establishment and management of rewilded areas overseen by local stakeholders organized within a community trust.

  • Successional plantings can provide both ecological and economic benefits.

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95 Acres

5 Acres
Pound for pound, 5 acres of plant-based production is greater than 100 acres of livestock production.

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4 plant-based farms of 1 acre employing four farmers working in a cooperative sharing tools, infrastructure, and marketing.

Plant-Based Agriculture

 

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1 acre community garden with 200 garden beds measuring 50x2.5'

Traditional conservation efforts have long focused on protecting pristine areas and removing humans from the landscape while shying away from protecting agricultural land. Yet the untapped conservation potential of transitioning livestock production systems to plant-based agriculture is enormous and must be accounted for if we stand a chance in reducing biodiversity loss. Furthermore, rewilded former agricultural land used for livestock will require active management. Land trusts around the world show how, when done correctly, humans have the capacity to act as regenerative environmental stewards.

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Image and sources from page 32 of the RAÍCES Institute Report

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