Economic, Social, and Environmental Impacts
Land is considered as a source of wealth and linked with the social status of human beings. But in simple words, it is the solid surface of the planet earth which is not covered with water. According to Rutherford Platt (2004), it is an important element of life similar to water, oxygen, and sunlight. Without these elements life is not possible on the earth. Almost three quarter of the world’s land is covered with water, and the rest is the living place of human beings (Platt, 2004, p. 3). The land of earth is divided into different countries and all countries have some rules and regulations of their acquired land. Land policies are created and implemented in the countries for the tenure, management, land use, and its property rights. In the United States of America, Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 is implemented across the nation as their land policy. It is the federal law of the country which is responsible to administer the public lands by the Bureau of Land Management. According to FLPMA, the three national systems including the National Park Service, National Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management are responsible to maintain and manage the land and their purpose is to preserve the natural resources of the country. Land allows the human beings for several uses and it makes them able to fulfill their different objectives. Land use is considered as basic activity of human beings, and it is a combination of different human activities in which humans create one or more services (Land Use and Land Management Practices in Environmental Perspective, 2013)
In the 21th century, US Supreme Court decided about the case of Kelo v. City of New London. The result of the case declared all of the US states have the right to seize the land from the private owners of land. It is due to the public of the country as they have the right to use the land. This decision is applied for the fair use of land of the country. The land policies not only provide assistance to the public but also it aims to preserve the natural resources (Grossman & C. Bryner, 2012).
Changes in the land use impacts on several important elements. In the last 25 years, major land use changes occurred in the United States that not only impacted its economy but also impacted on the social and environmental factors. Land use changes affect the agricultural system of the economy, urban, and rural communities. The socio economic impacts and the environmental impacts of land use and their policy implications are addressed below.
Production of an economy has three major types including its land. The other two factors are labor and capital of the economy. All these factors contribute in the production system. The land is used in the production of housing and in the food production. The agricultural aspects of the economy are based on the land and it provides several social and economic benefits to the economic system of the country. The agriculture is a way in which humans grow and cultivate their food (Nash & Miller, 2014). Land use and its changing process are significant and essential for the economic growth and development of the country. It also includes the social benefits and welfare of the society. Land use change is simply the conversion of land into something that is useful for the country or society such as housing or agricultural purposes. Land use change, needs cost and without the cost and labor force it is not possible. Due to increased rate of human population, land use changes occur to convert the farms and forests land into the housing and urban societies. Due to the land use change soil erosion, desertification, and many other degradations occurred and it reduces the land quality which is not effective for the agricultural productivity (Lubowski et al. 2006).
Urbanization is a phenomenon in which land use occur for the housing purposes and to accommodate the human population. It offers many challenges to the farmers who are present near the territories of urban areas. It is due to the destruction or damages such as destruction of crops and it impacts of the farmers farms (Lisansky, 1986). In these situations farmers need the assistance of nearby farmers. The neighboring farmers help them to develop their farms, and they also share their farm equipment with the farmers, and help them to improve the irrigation system of the farms. All these advantages ended when the nearby farms are converted into the urban settings. This leads to the “impermanence syndrome” which refers to the decrease in confidence level and stability in the farming process. It also leads to the reduction of the interest in the farming process by the farmers (Lopez, Adelaja, and Andrews, 1988). When the urban system spreads into the societies due to massive changes in the population, then the agricultural land conflicts arises and became problems.
Land use changes in the process of urbanization also create many profits and gives advantages to the farmers. The demands and arrival of new customers occurred, and provide opportunities to sell the crops in higher prices. A study analyzed that the farmers who sell the vegetables are the ones who are able to receive higher prices in the urban areas (Lopez, Adelaja, and Andrews, 1988). Moreover, due to the land use change, nurseries are created, vegetables and high value crops industries created and increase the value of agricultural economies. Many farmers adapt the changes due to the urbanization, and make their enterprises to gain benefits from the new economic opportunities. The most area of US farm production is increased due to the farmers who face urbanization pressure (Larson, Findeis, and Smith 2001).
Due to the increasing rate of urbanization, many government systems changed the land use laws and restrict the land use control. These restrictions helped the governments to decrease the level of urban development. The land use regulations and restrictions applied by the authorities decreased the land development between the years of 1982 to 1997 in the United States. The major reduction occurred in the Washington State estimated more than 12 percent. In Oregon, the reduction was more than 11percent, California, it was more than 9 percent, in Nevada, and it was more than 2 percent (Wu &Cho, 2007). But it has some potential risks and impacts as well including the higher prices of houses and it leads to the fact that houses are not affordable for the middle class people. Land use regulations impacts negatively to the economy as well and it reduces the house affordability for the people (Glaeser and Ward 2006; Glaeser and Gyourko 2002).
The land use regulations and laws must be able to balance between the private properties, rights, and the interests of general public. In Oregon States, ballot estimated that there is a difficulty in the balance of the act. Measure 37, is voted by the voters of Oregon State in 2004. It refers to the concept that government authorities should provide assistance to the private property owners, only when the land use laws decreases the “fair market values.” In the assistance, government should select the three approaches including remove, modify, or not to apply. Measure 37, was not implemented but remain unconstitutional by the lower courts. Due to this measure, more than 6000 cased filed in the Supreme Court by October 2007. Their request was to compensate them and the prices were more than $19 billion (Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development 2007). But the modification of this measure 37 was crucial and the voters approved the measure 49, in November 2007, “ensure that Oregon law provides just compensation for unfair burdens while retaining Oregon’s protection for farm and forest land uses and the state’s water resources” (ODLCD, 2008).
The land use changes provide several economic as well as societal advantages, but only occur when an economic cost is ready for it. Land use and land conservation are important elements, especially in the long term processes. It includes the economic, growth and sustainable development. The land use policies should also have a balance so that private property rights and public interest both could be balanced in an appropriate manner.
Lubowski, R.N., Vesterby, M., Bucholtz, S., Baez, A., and Roberts, M.J. (2006). Major uses of land in the United States, 2002. Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB–14)