8. Conclusion: A time for national action

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Since its creation, FAO has promoted the need for resource conservation. A further contribution to worldwide awareness was made in March 1980 with publication of the World Conservation Strategy, launched by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN) in cooperation with FAO, UNEP, and Unesco. Most recently, a World Soil Charter was adopted at the Twenty-first Session of the FAO Conference, held in Rome in November 1981. The text of the charter is published as an appendix to this publication.

At an earlier meeting in 1981, a paper prepared for the Sixth Session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture set forth a checklist of actions to be taken at the national level in creating a comprehensive soil and water programme. Not all items will prove applicable in every country, but, in the opinion of Committee members, all merit careful consideration by each country's leadership. The recommendations are not presented in order of priority.

  1. Develop a soil and water policy.
  2. increase awareness among all sections of the community of the problems caused by soil erosion and the need for action to solve the m.
  3. Prepare and execute intensive long-term training programmes at all levels in soil and water conservation, emphasizing a multidisciplinary approach.
  4. Survey a country's agricultural and forest lands - both current and potential - and assess their suitability for different uses. Consider the likely hazards of degradation. Provide decision makers with alternative land uses that satisfy community needs while ensuring that the land is used according to its capabilities.
  5. Provide advice, technical assistance and incentives - payments, improved credit, tax relief - to individuals and particularly to groups of land users willing to work with one another and with the government to achieve soil conservation.
  6. Plan and develop resource management projects on a watershed-by-watershed basis.
  7. Formulate research programmes which will provide sound scientific backing to practical soil conservation work, taking full note of socio-economic needs of farmers.
  8. Establish an institutional framework for mounting and supervising soil conservation programmes for coordination with other organizations involved.
  9. Develop soil and water conservation legislation in support of administrative action to be taken.
  10. Seek foreign technical and financial assistance if required.

These or similar actions by concerned countries are necessary to launch a worldwide effort to arrest soil erosion and other forms of resource degradation. Clearly, it is urgent to reverse the accelerating destruction of resources through comprehensive soil and water conservation programmes which increase and sustain crop yields. Such programmes are within reach today of every country, and the national leaders who design and support them will be engaged in public service in the best sense of that term. As populations grow and demands on resources increase, there will be no higher calling in the world than that of resource conservationist. There is no work more needed today than projects that help keep the land alive.

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