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The increasing human population in developing countries is putting pressure on their finite land resources and causing land degradation. Sectoral approaches to planning for the alleviation of this situation have frequently not been effective, and an integrated approach is required that involves all stakeholders from the outset, accommodates the qualities and limitations of each land unit component, and produces viable land use options. Concepts and definitions relating to such a holistic approach are given, in support of the overriding need to create negotiating platforms for decision making at all levels of planning.

Current land use issues, which require a resolution formulated with the aid of this approach in the rural and pert-urban spheres, are frequently derived from environmental versus developmental conflicts. Those discussed include decision making on whether it is preferable to use scarce resources to rehabilitate degraded land or to improve prime agricultural land, whether smallholder settlements or large-scale mechanized farming will better support the expanding population, the encroachment of urban development onto high quality agricultural land, the correct uses of scarce water resources, and the particular requirement for integrated as opposed to sectoral planning of coastal zones.

The execution of the integrated approach, as described in Agenda 21, will depend on policies that support planning for the use and sustainable management of land resources, on the strengthening of implementing institutions and on ensuring the active involvement and participation of stakeholders in the decision-making process. These actions will in turn be supported by a variety of databases on natural resources and their uses, which are combined through the use of a geographical information system. Social and economic tools are also described, which when used will ensure the inclusion of the contributions from stakeholders in land use negotiations.

The text of this Bulletin was first published in the form of a discussion paper which was intended to amplify and provide a background to FAO's draft report as Task Manager for the UN System for the implementation of Chapter 10 (Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources) of Agenda 21. An extract from the final report on the review of Chapter 10 at the Third Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in April 1995, is reproduced as Appendix I of the present document. The United Nations Environment Programme has since provided funds for a workshop in June 1995 which is intended to result in a first version of a new integrated approach.

The original discussion paper provided part of the basis for discussion at the International Workshop on Chapter 10 issues held at Wageningen, The Netherlands, on 20 to 22 February 1995. The conclusions and recommendations of that meeting are also included here as Appendix II.

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