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By 1970 many countries had developed their own systems of land evaluation. This made exchange of information difficult, and there was a clear need for international discussion to achieve some for of standardization. 1/ Preparatory work undertaken by two committees, one in the Netherlands and one in FAO, led to the production of a background document (FAO, 1972). This document, together with papers describing land classification systems throughout the world (FAO, 1974), was discussed at a meeting of international experts held in Wageningen in October 1972. Agreement was reached on most of the principles of the proposed framework for land evaluation, and a summary of the discussions and recommendations of the meeting was published (Brinkman and Smyth, 1973).
1/Two new systems, one developed in Iran and one in Brazil, drew attention to possibilities in this regard.
The next stage was the writing of the first draft of a Framework (FAO, 1973). This was widely circulated with a request for comments. In the light of these comments a smaller meeting was held in Rome in January 1975, in which gaps in the draft Framework were identified and suggestions made for improvement. The discussions and recommendations of this second meeting (FAO, 1975) form the basis from which the present document. as been prepared.
A large number of experts in land evaluation, both within FAO and from many different countries, have contributed to or commented upon the present text. Major contributions to the development of the concepts and methods incorporated in the Framework have been made by K.J. Beek, J. Bennema, P.J. Mahler and A.J. Smyth. In particular the concepts of land utilization types, land qualities and matching owe much to the work of K.J. Beek and J. Bennema (1971). Others who have contributed to the development of methods, or supplied material, include C.A. Robertson and A.P.A. Vink. Extensive and valuable comments on the draft text have been received from participants in the 1975 meeting, also from M. Ashraf and J.H. de Vos t.N.C. The present text has been edited by R. Brinkman and A. Young.
Land evaluation is designed to serve practical purposes. The Framework, in its draft versions, has already been employed in a number of FAO land development projects. It is essential that it should now be extensively tested, by application to a wide variety of environments, physical, economic and social, and to a broad range of planning purposes. It is only by such practical applications that the Framework can serve its intended purpose: to contribute to the wise use of land resources by man.
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