Sustainable land management (SLM) is a knowledge based procedure that helps integrate land, water, biodiversity and environmental management to meet rising food and fiber demands while sustaining ecosystem services and livelihoods.

It is necessary to meet the requirements of a growing population. Improper land management can lead to land degradation and a significant reduction in the productive and service functions.

The SLM involves these activities:

  • Preserving and enhancing the productive capabilities of land
  • Sustaining productive forest areas and potentially forest reserves
  • Maintaining the ability of aquifers to serve the needs of farm and other productive activities.
  • Maintaining the integrity of watersheds for water supply and hydropower-generation needs and water conservation zones

Such actions are increasingly important in uplands and watersheds especially those where pressures from the resident populations are severe and where the destructive consequences of upland degradation are being felt in far more densely populated areas downstream.

Land use conflicts are increasing in intensity and frequency as a result of expanding development, a finite land base and a growing environmental ethic.

Reactionary strategies, fragmented bureaucracies and the legacy of utilitarian management approaches have created disjointed environmental management that is poorly suited to resolve land use conflicts.


Land use activities whether converting natural landscapes for human use or changing management practices on human-dominated lands have transformed a large proportion of the planet’s land surface.

Table 1. Concepts for Integrated land management

S.No. Main Land Management Goal Operational approaches Science involved
1 To understand the main processes in the eco-subsystem soil; included by threats Analysis of processes related to the 8 threats (Figure 1) to soil and their inter dependency; erosion, loss of organic matter, contamination, sealing, compaction, decline in biodiversity, salinisation, floods and land slides Inter-disciplinary approach through the cooperation of soil physics, soil chemistry, mineralogy and soil biology
2 To know where these processes occur and how they develop with time Development and harmonisation of methods for the analysis of the estates of the 8 threats (Figure 1) to soil and their changes with time Multidisciplinary approach through cooperation of soil science with geographical sciences, geo statistics and geo information science.
3 To know the driving forces and pressures behind these processes as related to cultural, social, economic, ecological or technical, local, regional or global development Relating the 8 threats (Figure 1) to driving forces and pressure Multidisciplinary approach through cooperation of soil sciences with political science, social science, economic science, historical science, philosophical science and others
4 To know the impacts on the eco services provided by the sub system soil to other environmental compartments Analysis of the impact of the 8 threats (Figure 1), relating them to soil eco services for other environmental compartments Multidisciplinary approach through cooperation of soil sciences with geological science, biological science, toxicological science, hydrological science, physio-geographical science and others
5 To have operational tools for land management available Development of operational procedure for the mitigation of the threats Multidisciplinary approach through cooperation of natural science with engineering science, technical science, physical science, mathematical science and others


By clearing tropical forests, practicing subsistence agriculture, intensifying farmland production, humans are changing the world’s landscapes.

Although land use practices vary greatly across the world, their ultimate outcome is generally the same:

(i) to produce food and fiber

(ii) to acquire natural resources for immediate human needs. The sections that follow present the rationale for why SLM is a critical cross-sector driver for maintaining production and services from human dominated landscapes.

The challenges identified are also entry points for carefully targeted interventions and represent opportunities for pro-poor investments. There are different important concepts for integrated land management (Table 1).

Threats-to- soil

Figure 1. The 8 Threats to soil and their functional inter dependencies


Integrate resource management (IRM) applies a number of concepts to balance development and conservation objectives.

  • Stakeholder collaboration
  • Explicit goals and indicators
  • Trade off analysis
  • Adaptive management
  • Monitoring
  • Development thresholds
  • Zoning

Contributed By:

Dan Singh Jakhar1*, Pavan Devesh1, Ashutosh1 and Saket Kumar2

1Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Institute of Agricultural Sciences & 2Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India

*Corresponding Author: [email protected]