Economic Development
 

Agriculture

Are Working Landscapes Desirable?

Natural Resources

Economic Development

Government Presence

Neighbor vs. Neighbor

Public vs. Private

Urban Sprawl

Tourism




Have you ever walked around in a store with shelves filled with expensive fine china and glass? You probably were extremely careful because you didn't want to break anything fragile. Just like a store that sells china, some ecosystems are fragile. An ecosystem is a community of organisms and their physical environment. They work together as a unit. When one part of an ecosystem is changed or damaged, the rest of the ecosystem is also changed or damaged.

When humans interact with ecosystems, bad results can happen, especially in fragile places. We have the potential to cause a lot of problems (and break a lot of glass!). When we build homes or businesses, we impact the ecosystems in that area by removing plants, displacing animals, and changing the watershed. Ecosystems pay the price when humans make poor decisions while developing or working in areas. Biodiversity, the mix of plants and animals, is at risk. Water quality is jeopardized. Soil erodes.

We all want more jobs, more money, and more places to shop and eat. So, how can we balance the need for economic development with the need to sustain the fragile ecosystems we build in? How can we walk around the store filled with glass without knocking all of the shelves over?

An Example: Farms
An example of healthy economic development within a working landscape might be a farm. Working the land provides economic support to the farming family. Farmers support and sustain the health of the land when they make ecologically thoughtful decisions. If the scales start to tilt to productivity rather than conservation, the farm can be an unhealthy example of economic development within a working landscape. Successfully balancing the productivity of the land with proper conservation practices makes a farm a good economic development element within a working landscape. It's a tricky balancing act.

Different Opinions
Some people feel that sacrificing land, plants, and animals is okay in order for people to make money on businesses and residential development. Others would rather ban economic development within fragile ecosystems. Still others think that both can co-exist peacefully, but this peaceful co-existence takes constant hard work.

Economic development within a successful working landscape relies on sustainable development. Sustainable development requires that people don't just act in their own best interests. Money needs to be made from the landscape while the landscape gets the care it needs to thrive.

As we look into the future of economic development within working landscapes, we need to strike that delicate balance between what we need and what our ecosystems need. We need to make decisions on which is more important and if they can both co-exist.

What do you think?
In what ways can economic development and a working landscape co-exist?
top  

 


Explore More: Working Landscapes
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
The Explore More project is supported by funds from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
and the USDE Star Schools Program.


 

 

 

 

 

Paper: A Natural Resource
Paper is perhaps the most familiar product developed from natural resources. More

Who is Doing Business on a Working Landscape?
All businesses use land. Explore how they use it and what they use it for. More

A Media Mogul and Working Landscape Architect
Ted Turner is the largest private landowner in the United States. This media billionaire (owner of TBS, CNN, TNT, the Cartoon Network) owns nearly two million acres of ranchland in Florida, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, and South Dakota. More

IPTV Market to Market Links
Benefit found in small scale wind projects
wind researchers have often called the upper Midwest the Saudi Arabia of wind power. If the wind potential for the entire region were completely utilized, it is estimated the energy produced would supply more power than the entire united states could use.

Co-op without chemicals
Walk down any grocery aisle of snack chips and the implied "healthier" options can be overwhelming. There is "low fat" … "fat free" … "no salt" … "fat free and less sodium"… and "reduced fat."

Expanding Organic Industry
Concern over food quality is spurring growth in the development of organic products and an increase in the number of retail outlets selling organic foods.

Northern California Distributor Connects Farmers & Chefs Through Web
Farmer and high-tech guru Brian Gardiner applies his skills to make the distance shorter from "field to fork."

Generating Profit From Less Acres
While conventional agriculture seems to be expanding acreage to make ends meet, some savvy marketers are making money growing less traditional crops on a fraction of the land used by an average farm.

Cooperative venture finds place in local groceries
A cooperative of Oregon organic growers are joining forces to sell their bounty to local grocery stores.

Organic market grows a booming business
sales of organic produce and products have, over the last 8 years, grown at an annual rate of better than 20%.

Conservation, Non-traditional Crops Take Front Seat in Farm Bill Debate
The House version of the farm bill calls for an increase in the size of the Conservation Reserve Program to 40 million acres. It also seeks a 75 percent increase in baseline spending for other conservation programs.

Large scale hog production controversy lingers
Today, as one of the nation’s most prolific pork producers, and despite a series of legal challenges, premium standard farms remains a prime example of the influence that a large, well-financed corporation can wield in rural America.

Iowa Wrestles With Landmark CAFO Bill
In recent years states in a variety of ways have come to grips with issues provoked by large-scale animal feeding operations.

Water Issues Trouble Rural America
Grain processors are concerned the Mississippi would become the major grain transportation route causing the price of shipping to rise as much as 40%. Farmers are worried the river would return to its destructive flood- prone ways.

Riverkeepers Target Big Pork
In recent days hefty fines have been levied on pork operations found guilty of violating environmental regulations. Most of the fines were attributable to the improper handling and disposal of manure.

PBS NewsHour Online Links

In the United States' southeast region, states like Tennessee are having issues with logging. Some loggers have switched from selective logging—cutting down the largest and most valuable trees—to clear cutting entire areas. Hear what outdoor enthusiasts, property owners, loggers, and local politicians have to say about selective logging.

Vermiculite, a rock used in insulation and potting soil, was mined in Libby, Montana. Unfortunately, so was asbestos—a mineral that causes lung damage. Learn how the residents of Libby are dealing with the fallout.