Join forces with nature. This should be our land use and coastal and river management strategy. We should not fight nature, but use its power.
It is only in this way that we can provide a growing global population with food, energy and a safe place to live while using the earth's surface both intensively and sustainably, said Professor Jakob Wallinga on assuming the chair of Soil Geography and Landscape at Wageningen University.
In pre historic times, people made use of the landscape as they encountered it. They adapted their lifestyle to what nature offered them. Gradually, however, the process of adapting and altering the landscape to the needs of humanity began. More recently, this process stopped taking the existing landscape into consideration and simply developed it. Currently, fifty per cent of the earth's land mass has been altered or adapted by humanity.
Unfortunately, says Wallinga, up until now humanity has not been very successful in their management of the earth's surface. While intensive interventions have addressed specific problems, these interventions have only solved the problem in the short term, with little regard for the long term. Due to this, long term effects are often unexpected and sometimes devastating.
We have been intervening in natural systems for thousands of years with too little insight and understanding into how the system works and, moreover, into the long term effects of our interventions. Concurrently, it is becoming increasingly clear that nature organised things quite well without human intervention, explains Professor Wallinga. In his opinion, it is time that people became aware that it is better to work with, rather than against the forces of nature.