Spring /Summer 1993

Volume 33







Sustainable development has become a fashionable phrase in certain circles, and I, for one, am glad of it, provided its rise to prominence among decision makers and policy setters means that a real -world need is getting at least some small share of the attention it deserves in the international corridors of power.

The problem with this fashionable phrase, as with all examples of the kind, is that it stands to lose both its integrity and its edge through constant -and, in some cases, inappropriate -use. Because the need for such a farsighted approach to development is so great and so immediate, devaluation of the phrase and of the ideas it embodies is something we cannot allow to happen.

We won't, if David L. Brooks, of Canada's International

Development Research Centre, has anything to say about it.

Fortunately, he does, and he says it with candor and clarity in his essay "Beyond Catch Phrases: What Does Sustainable

Development Really Mean?" He not only sheds some much needed light on The Brundtland Report's famous definition of the term, he also makes two points that are in danger of being overlooked: that the approach makes good sense economically and socially as well as environmentally, and, by the same token, that sustainable development is not an alternative to economics but rather a viable alternative economics. Brooks makes these points, and others, most cogently, and I urge you to give him a hearing.

Barbara Hutchinson, Jodee Kawasaki, and Carla Long

Casler, information specialists all, follow Brooks with a thoroughgoing overview of the literature on sustainable agriculture, one of the foundation stones of the edifice called sustainable development. I believe you'll find their annotated list a useful addition to your reference shelf.

Australian architect and urban ecologist Paul F. Downton is next in this issue's line -up, writing from a venue often given short shrift in discussions of sustainability: the city, a place he sees as both a wellspring of creativity and a destroyer of ecosystems. His is a call for reexamining the ways urban and rural communities interact and for revaluing those natural areas too many of us think of -if we think of them at all -as wastelands.

Geographer Douglas Johnson has worked extensively in

Northern Africa. In this issue's concluding article, he ponders the lessons to be learned from pastoral nomadism, a traditional way of life with a long history in the arid lands of the

Old World and one that has been all but extinguished by the pressures of overpopulation and of political and environmental change. It will come as a surprise to many that Johnson believes traditional pastoral systems are not the force for desertification they commonly are perceived to be, but rather

"a form of extensive rotational grazing that is ecologically sound," at least under conditions of low population density.


A note on our frequency of publication: Owing to the budget constraints that have affected just about everybody we know in recent years, only one issue of the Arid Lands

Newsletter (Spring /Summer) was published in calendar 1992.

With a little financial help from our friends, we will to return to our customary semiannual schedule in 1993.

Finally, you may notice that more space has been devoted to longer articles in this issue and that the space allotted to announcements of conferences and symposia has been reduced. This minor change in editorial policy is in direct response to the results of our recent reader survey, in which we learned that articles and summaries of publications relevant to each issue's theme are the components of the magazine you value most highly. On this, as in all things connected with ALN, we invite your comments.



Spring /Summer 1993

Volume 33


John M. Bancroft



Diedre L. Muns


Robert S. Breckenridge


Office of Arid Lands Studies

College of Agriculture

The University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 85719 USA

The Arid Lands Newsletter is published semiannually by the Office of Arid Lands

Studies, University of Arizona, and is distributed worldwide without charge.

The purpose of the Newsletter is to inform readers of current activities of interest to arid lands researchers worldwide. When quoting items from the Newsletter we would appreciate appropriate recognition.

We'd like to hear from you. Address letters of comment, requests for future mailing, and items about projects that may be of interest to our readers to:

Editor, Arid Lands Newsletter

Office of Arid Lands Studies

University of Arizona

845 North Park Avenue

Tucson, Arizona 85719 USA


Beyond Catch Phrases: What Does Sustainable Development

Really Mean?

by David Brooks

Sustainable development is a goal toward which we all must work, Brooks argues in his introductory essay, while sustainable growth is a contradiction in terms.


Sustainable Agriculture: A Guide to Information Sources by Barbara Hutchinson, Jodee L. Kawasaki, and Carla Long Casler

As the authors of this annotated source list so ably demonstrate, organizations around the globe play key roles in keeping us informed of the wide range of critical issues in the drive toward a truly sustainable agriculture.


Urban Impact on Ecological Sustainablity in Arid Lands:

The South Australian Experience

by Paul F. Downton

The thought -provoking idea at the heart of Downton's exploration of the impact of cities on the hinterlands from which they draw their sustenance is that we can reverse the process of desertification by adopting a sustainable approach to the "built environment" of modern human settlements



Pastoral Nomadism and the Sustainable Use of Arid Lands by Douglas L. Johnson

The disruption of traditional pastoral systems -which were well adapted to the low productivity

, spatially dispersed, pulsating forage resources of arid lands -has made it difficult to promote sustainable development in Old World drylands , but Johnson here offers six principles that, if applied conscientiously , can adapt old wisdom to new circumstances.

® Printed

on 50% waste paper.

On the cover: Pastiche on a theme of intergenerational responsibility, by Diedre L. Muns.



























he concise definition of sustainable development at left is that offered in Our Common Future, also known as The

Brundtland Report, which is arguably the most important


document of the second half of the twentieth century. In many ways, The Brundtland Report is important not so much for what it says as for the reaction it has stimulated.

It has had a galvanizing effect on international development at a crucial time. It made sustainable development a political issue by the very fact that it was a consensus document, not just from the East and the West but also from the North and the South.

Clearly, The Brundtland Report achieved its purpose: it got people talking about sustainable development. As a result, we have had a burst of analyses and articles about what we are doing and where we are going in both developed and developing countries. Indeed, sustainable development has become official policy in dozens of organizations around the world, most notably the World Bank.

And yet few people can offer a good explanation of what sustainable development really means. As always, confusion and misunderstanding are frequent side effects of lofty proposals on environment and economic development.

The Brundtland Report must take at least some responsibility for the confusion, for its own definition is ambiguous. Neither is it new, clear, or complete. The authors have turned out to be their own worst enemies, in that they failed to draw out the implications of their own statements.

Simply put, the authors want to have their cake and eat it too.

Sustainable development is a fundamentally radical notion that we must learn to use in all of our work. But, at the same time, it is conservative, in that it can work within the traditional framework of economic


theory. It is an alternative economics, not an alternative to economics. It contradicts many common ideas about economic growth, but it does not say that all economic growth is bad.


The inability to understand what sustainable development means has led to its mistaken acceptance by many organizations. Those using it as a standard often do not comprehend its implications.



Because misconceptions surround the term, a few clarifiers should be kept in mind. The adjective is "sustainable," not

"sustained." The noun is "development," not "growth." And the word "economic" does not appear.

Although these distinctions may appear simplistic, they are important. Growth, for instance, means to increase in size by adding material. Development, on the other hand, is the realization of potential.

Many people use the term "sustainable growth," but that is a contradiction in terms. Sustainable refers to limits, whereas growth means physical increase. The two concepts do not mix. Sustainable development, on the other hand, means limits placed on potential; quality can always be expanded, and in many more ways than mere physical size.

A better understanding of the idea of sustainable development can be found in a report by the World Conservation

Strategy, which actually predated The Brundtland Report:

"The emerging paradigm of sustainable development. .


seeks to develop strategies and tools to respond to five broad requirements: (1) integration of conservation and development; (2) satisfaction of basic human needs; (3) achievement of equity and social justice; (4) provision for social self determination and cultural diversity, and (5) maintenance of ecological integrity.

"These challenges are so strongly interrelated that it is difficult, and indeed unhelpful, to arrange them in hierarchical or priority order. Each is both a goal itself and a prerequisite to the achievement of the others."

This definition of sustainable development is better than that offered by The Brundtland Report because it does not rely on one specific axis for explanation. It points to the many implications and interconnected aspects inherent within the term "sustainable development." It also confronts the incorrect notion that environmentalists are not interested in people.




Environmentalism has made significant gains at the individual project level. New tools such as "environmental and social impact assessments" can indicate to what degree economic activity affects the environment. These tools allow for the fact that the environment serves as a repository for waste as well as a source of materials for production. These new tools also show an increased recognition of the aesthetic value of nature and its resources.















There is a growing recognition that, in many cases, bad economics is bad environment. Getting price signals right and getting rid of subsidies for vested interests may be the best thing for the environment.

All of these gradual observations share the same philosophy: "The present economic system is fine; we just need to fine tune it. We can continue to do what we are now doing, but do it better." Such a philosophy, however, ignores the key issue of sustainable development: the macroperspective.




Sustainable development is not fundamentally about microeconomics or individual project analysis. It must focus instead on the big picture, on macroeconomics and policy analysis. The key issues do not involve questions of how how to allocate resources -but rather how much -the size of the economy. We have to look at how many people can live on this Earth and, more important, how rich they can be in terms of their use of natural resources.

Traditionally, macroeconomics has within it no concept of the maximum size of an economy. There are no restrictions on the scale of an economy; bigger is always better.

But the environment imposes very real constraints on the size of an economic system. Human activity has pushed against the physical limits of the world. We are beginning to go beyond a scale at which we can survive. The problems of global warming and rising sea levels are only the most visible examples of going beyond our limits.

Economic textbooks have emphasized the circular flow of income through a capitalist economy: the greater the flow the larger, and thus more prosperous, the economy. But the inability, or unwillingness, to realize that economies must be limited in scale has pushed us back against a wall.

Sustainable development suggests an alternative perspective. Instead of focusing on a circular flow of income, we should be looking at a linear flow of natural resources: the depletion or degradation of resources caused by human use.

By moderating this linear flow we can go a long way toward ensuring that resources, whether renewable or nonrenewable, will be available for the future.

Some think the limitations of our environment can be offset by technology or by recycling. They can, but only partially. Technology and recycling can graft on new solutions without addressing the root of the problem, which is the mentality that an economy can grow indefinitely.

To address the problem, most environmental economists have concluded that just as we need ethical criteria to help determine the distribution of income in an economy, so too do we need ecological criteria to help us determine appropriate limits to the scale of an economy.

One of the foremost alternative economists, Herman Daly of the World Bank, prefers this approach. He argues that there is a fundamental difference between quality development and growth. An economy, he believes, should be efficient enough to ensure quality development. But growth in the scale of that economy must become increasingly constrained by the capacity of the ecosystem to regenerate natural resources and to absorb waste products. Growth, in other words, must be limited by the environment.



We are still learning how to introduce these notions of sustainable development into larger economic considerations. Thus, it is too early to state categorically how it might apply to developing countries. However, we can suggest that the introduction of the concept will have four important benefits.

First, sustainable development will force both economists and ecologists to look much more carefully at their models and their definitions. Many things previously on the fringe of economic theory, such as the concept of entropy, will now rightfully move toward the center.

Second, we will get some specific tools to measure the effects of human activity on the environment. Economic indicators, such as gross national product, will come to include the depletion of natural resources and their degradation through pollution.

The third benefit, and the one most relevant to international development agencies, is the introduction of sustainable development as a set of criteria into both project analyses and reviews of wider policy choices. We are a long way from having a full set of economic, social, cultural, and ecological criteria, but the ground is being prepared.

Fourth, and maybe most important in the long run, sustainable development is on its way to becoming a philosophical concept that will infuse all work on development, whether in richer or poorer countries. If it is accepted seriously, apparent rates of return on a nonsustainable proposal are simply irrelevant when compared to a proposal that has a lower yield but is sustainable. Whether or not a project is "sustainable" will become the standard of success in international development. ej

David Brooks is Associate Director, Environmental Policy, for the

International Development Research Centre (IDRC) , Ottawa, Canada.


6 gut




























There have been as many attempts to define the concept of sustainability as there are prescriptions for achieving it. Even the phrase "sustainable agriculture" often is in question. Some consider other terminology more appropriate: alternative agriculture, agroecology, low -input sustainable agriculture, regenerative farming, and organic farming; each has its own following of believers and advocates. The common theme tying these diverse perspectives systems that are environmentally sound, together is a vision of agricultural culturally sensitive, and economically viable. Often added to this is the belief that the allocation of resources should be equitable not only across society, but also across generations.

What is causing this widespread reassessment of modern agricultural practices?

What is making us consider a more responsible stewardship of our environment?

We need look no further than our daily newspapers: the denuding of our forests, massive water and air pollution, soil infertility, insect infestations, global warming, loss of irreplaceable biological resources, hunger in Asia, famine in Africa. We are constantly reminded of man's impact on the environment, and it is appropriate, even necessary, that we ask: Where did we go wrong? What are the solutions?

Following World War II, agriculture in the developed world experienced a

"green revolution" characterized by development of conventional, industrial farming practices. These practices, based on a one -crop, or monoculture, system, are heavily dependent on outside inputs and capital outlays. Converts to this method initially experienced phenomenal increases in yields, which raised profits and led ultimately to the creation of an agribusiness industry. It is, however, the secondary results that are causing many to believe the system was built on faulty assumptions. Higher yields have been gained at the expense of soil fertility, water quality, and human health. Increasing quantities of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers are needed to maintain current production levels. The resulting pollution has contributed to putting our environment at risk. Further negative impacts have been the consequence of promoting industrial farming practices in developing countries. As resources become concentrated in the hands of a few, small farmers are pushed into marginal areas where increased land degradation often becomes inevitable. Indigenous systems, once capable of adapting to situations of risk and climatic variability, cannot meet these new demands.

The forces at play are complex and as such will require complex solutions.

Policy trade -offs will have to be made between environmental effects and the need for food security. Tough issues such as population growth and agricultural subsidies need to be examined. Greater collaboration between countries is necessary to initiate incentive programs for long -term planning rather than short -term benefits.

International agencies, regional and national programs, research institutions, extension services, and farmers must address these concerns together. Can we meet this challenge? Do we have the level of commitment required?

These are the questions agriculturalists and policy makers around the world are deliberating.

They are at the heart of the literature reviewed here.

The following resource list of publications and sources of information is necessarily a select one. Many more exist. Our hope is to provide a helpful guide for further study for those wishing to know more about the subject. We included a variety of materials, ranging from practical, how -to manuals to philosophical discussions. Some address the whole picture and others suggest useful starting points for developing a more sustainable agricultural system. Although not everyone agrees on the order of priorities, or on the strategies we need to pursue, there is consensus on the ultimate importance of the goal. Our future and the future of our children depend on it.

A unique resource for locating both relevant organizations and educational materials is the Showcase of sustainable agriculture information and educational materials (1992,

63 pages), sponsored by Sustainable Agricultural Network

(SAN), a consortium of universities, government, business, and non -profit organizations in the United States dedicated to information exchange. For more information on the

Network, contact: Information Group, Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program, University of California, Davis, California USA, 95616.




Organizations around the globe play a key role in disseminating information on sustainability issues.

To identify these organizations, a number of directories are worthwhile to review. Besides such general directories as the Encyclopedia of associations, Vols. 1 -4 (25th ed., Gale

Research Co., 1991) and the Agricultural information resource centers: a world directory (IAALD and

CTA, Urbana, Illinois USA, 1990), several specialized directories are being compiled to address the needs of the research and farm communities. Healthy harvest directory 1992, jointly published by the Healthy

Harvest Society and the International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, is the latest edition in a series of directories covering organizations throughout the world with interests in sustainable agriculture.

Entries vary in length and include

55414; telephone: (612) 331 -1099.








addresses, telephone numbers, and a description of activities.

Healthy Harvest Society's address is: Suite 105, 1424 16th

St. N.W., Washington, D.C. USA 20036; the address for the

International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is: 1701

University Ave. S.E., Room 202, Minneapolis, MN USA

Teaching materials on cropping and livestock systems, soil and water quality, the economics of sustainable agriculture, public policy, and ethics are presented in Resources for teaching sustainable agriculture: a supplement to Toward a sustainable agriculture: a teacher's guide (1992, 26 pages).

This publication was sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Wisconsin Rural Development Center, Mt. Horeb,

Wisconsin USA.



In the United States, the most visible coordinating unit for information on sustainable agriculture is the Alternative

Farming Systems Information

Center at the National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland

USA 20705 -2351. The Center has been especially active in producing bibliographies on a wide variety of subjects. Selections include a list of periodicals related to alternative farming systems, and the following: Tracing the evolution of organic /sustainable agriculture: a selected and annotated bibliography (1988, 20 pages); Educational and training opportunities in sustainable agriculture (4th ed., 1991, lists

151 organizations); and IPM and biological control of plant pests: field crops (1991, 377 citations).

Scheduled for completion at the end of 1992 is a print and electronic directory of individuals and organizations with expertise in sustainable agriculture. This directory is being compiled by the staff of ATTRA (Appropriate

Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), who also produce many other publications on various aspects of sustainable farming practices. Their address is: ATTRA, P.O. Box 3657,

Fayetteville, Arkansas USA 72702; telephone: (501) 442 -

9824/fax: (501) 442 -9842.

AGRECOL in Langenbruck, Switzerland, and the International Centre on Low External Input Agriculture (ILEIA), located in Leusden, The Netherlands, also publish widely in the field. They jointly compiled the two -part directory and bibliography, Towards sustainable agriculture. Part one: abstracts, periodicals, organizations; Part two: bibliography

(1988, Parts One and Two are both 24 pages). Part One contains an annotated bibliography of 45 books, includes ordering information for 32 periodicals, and identifies informa-


8 tion centers, international networks, and international agricultural research centers relevant to sustainable agriculture concerns. The list of 254 books included in Part Two provides addresses of publishers to facilitate acquisition.


The following books, monographs, and proceedings were identified through CD -ROM searches of the two major agricultural databases, CAB ABSTRACTS and AGRICOLA, and by searching the online catalogs at the University of Arizona and

Montana State University libraries. Search strategies included the terms sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, and agroforestry. Coverage is from 1983 to the present.

General Texts

Altieri, M.A., with contributions by R.B. Norgaard, S.B.

Hecht, J.G. Farrell, and M. Liebman. 1987. Agroecology: the scientific basis of alternative agriculture. Boulder, Colorado,

USA: Westview Press. 227 pages.

Traditional farmers in the developing world and organic farmers in the U.S. and Europe both challenge the premise of conventional, modern agriculture, which is based on high input scientific technology. To address the needs of farmers practicing low -input alternative agriculture, research should be oriented toward developing strategies for sustaining yields while employing ecologically sound management techniques.

The field of agroecology, defined as the "scientific discipline that approaches the study of agriculture from an ecological perspective," provides the necessary perspective for such research. This approach takes a multidisciplinary view of agriculture by looking at the relationships that exist between people, crops, soil, and livestock. The book's five sections provide an historical framework for the topic, suggest design options for alternative systems and technologies, describe traditional and organic farming systems from around the world, define the ecology of pest management, and provide guidelines for establishing an ecological agriculture throughout the world.

:Carroll, C.R., J.H. Vandermeer, and P. Rosset (eds.). 1990.

Agroecology. New York: McGraw -Hill Publishing Company.

641 pages.

"Agroecology can contribute to farm profitability by reducing costly inputs while maintaining acceptable, though not always maximal, yields." Interest in the interface between agriculture and ecology has increased as environmental degradation and higher production costs have begun to plague today's farmer. Topics covered provide an overview to the field, present current thinking on the subject, and consider scientific and sociopolitical issues. The volume is divided into four parts. Part 1 gives a general background to agroecology, with chapters on world hunger, climate, a history of agriculture, technological changes, and the impact of modern agriculture on social relations and ecology. Part 2 looks at the


















3 application of ecological principles, including discussions on crop physiology, plant populations, disease dynamics, herbivorous insects, and beneficial elements in soils. Part 3 contains chapters on nitrogen cycles, integrated pest management (IPM), biotechnology, intercropping, preservation of genetic resources, the interface between natural areas and agroecosystems, and modern agriculture's affect on nutrition.

The concluding section focuses on agricultural research directions in both the developing and developed world

Dover, M.J., and L.M. Talbot. 1987. To feed the Earth: agro- ecology for sustainable development. Washington,

D.C.: World Resources Institute. vi + 88 pages.

This study examines the constraints to agricultural systems in developing countries, especially those with tropical climates. It presents an alternative approach to agricultural development designed specifically for the small farmer in these regions and based on ecological principles.

The authors discuss the processes and complexities of ecosystem development and suggest that these characteristics must be understood if sustainability in agriculture is to be achieved. The section on the agroecosystem and humankind's place in it focuses on the mixed cropping and agroforestry systems most prevalent in tropical regions. Policy issues related to establishing an ecologically -based agriculture are pointed out, including inequities in land tenure systems and dependency on expensive inputs and subsidies. A plan for sustainable agriculture includes: 1) improving soil quality;

2) ecological efficiency; 3) agroecosystem stability, and 4) diversity. The authors call for more research and education in the area of agricultural ecology and a change in national agricultural development policies and international development programs.

Edens, T.C., C. Fridgen, and S.L. Battenfield (eds.). 1985.

Sustainable agriculture and integrated farming systems:

1984 conference proceedings. East Lansing, Michigan,

USA: Michigan State University Press. 344 pages.

Conference goals were twofold: 1) to provide both quantitative and qualitative assessments of costs and returns from alternative farming practices, and 2) to identify the interdependencies between farmer -controlled components and the physical, biological, and socioeconomic factors outside the farmer's control. European models illustrate research programs for alternative farming systems and provide examples of technology transfer at the small farm level. The role of values and ethics in agriculture also is considered. Organic farming, the role of animals in the farming system, integrated pest management, and cropping systems are examined for their economic viability and ecological effects. The editors stress the need for a multidisciplinary approach to future agricultural research efforts.

ens Edwards, C.A., R. Lal, P. Madden, R.H. Miller, and G.

House (eds.). 1990. Sustainable agricultural systems.

Ankeny, Iowa, USA: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

696 pages.



This six -part work includes 40 papers presented at the

International Conference on Sustainable Agricultural

Systems held at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, in

September 1988. Papers in Part I provide an overview of the issue of sustainability, looking at it from a historical perspective and how it relates to today's society. Part II examines individual components of sustainable agricultural systems, such as soil management, crop rotation, crop breeding, pest management, and the role of animals. Integrated farming systems, with specific examples taken from European agriculture, is the focus of Part III. The development of sustainable agricultural systems in the tropical regions of

Africa, South America, and Asia are discussed in Part IV. Part V discusses the economic, social, and policy issues affecting sustainable agriculture programs in both the biodiversity and evaluate the impact of agriculture and other changes on it. Recommendations are made for actions by the scientific community and government agencies, including: 1) further research on the role played by invertebrates and microorganisms in the conservation of biological resources;

2) the need to increase the number of people and research centers involved in the study of biodiversity; 3) the provision for a broader dissemination of information about the benefits derived from biodiversity, and 4) the need for an international biosystematics network to coordinate scientific research on



ON HUMAN GOALS AND ON biodiversity.

Lal, R., and F.J. Pierce (eds.).

1991. Soil management for sustainability. Ankeny, Iowa

USA: Soil and Water Conservation Society. xii + 189 pages.

This book focuses on improved methods of soil management as a practical entry point for working

U.S. and developing countries. Part

VI reviews the ecological benefits that result from employing sustainable agricultural practices, including improved soil productivity and attention to water quality and human health issues.



,Gliessman, S.R. (ed.). 1989.

Agroecology: researching the ecological basis for sustainable agriculture (Ecological Studies 78). New

York: Springer -Verlag. 380 pages.

Divided into two parts -Part 1: basic ecological concepts in agroecosystems; Part 2: agroecosystem

design and management -this

volume covers the subject broadly





but in- depth. Topics included in the first section are biological control, integrated pest management, cropping systems, agro- forestry, and intercropping, with specific case studies drawn from Mexico, Belize, and Taiwan.

The second section covers use of wetlands in Veracruz,

Mexico, farming practices in northeastern India, water management in The Netherlands, and energy use in the

United States and China, plus an analysis of threats to sustainability in intensified agricultural systems.


KING 4 processes include soil structure, soil compaction, and predicting soil erosion and its effects on crop productivity.

Management options include conservation tillage, utilization of organic wastes, farming by soils, and agricultural sustainability. The final section deals with resource assessment policy and researchable priorities" (from the preface to the volume).

toward agricultural sustainability.

It "consists of 14 manuscripts, 12 of which were presented at a workshop held in Edmonton,

Alberta, in August 1989 (sponsored by the World Association of

Soil and Water Conservation in honor of Dr. William E. Larson).

Introductory and concluding chapters were subsequently added to provide continuity and coherence. Topics discussed in the book can be divided into three parts: basic processes, management options, and policy issues and priorities. Important themes covered among basic

, r, Hawksworth, D.L. (ed.). 1991. The biodiversity of microorganisms and invertebrates: its role in sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of the First Workshop on the

Ecological Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture (WEFSA

1), London, 26 -27 July 1990. Wallingford, UK: CAB

International. 302 pages.

The workshop was convened to address issues that threaten Earth's biological diversity, especially among the invertebrates and microorganisms of forests and grasslands.

Papers assess the current body of knowledge about

Maser, C. 1988. The redesigned. forest. San Pedro,

California: R & E Miles. 234 pages.

This volume presents a multidisciplinary and philosophical examination of the devastation wreaked on our forests by short -term economic expedience. The complexities of a forest's natural design make it difficult for humans to perceive the innate organization and self- sustaining processes at work. Throughout history, humans have exploited, regulated, and redesigned forests. Convincing arguments show the necessity for changing current land management practices.

n! Ruttan, V.W. (ed.). 1992. Sustainable agriculture and the environment: perspectives on growth and constraints.

Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. 189 pages.

This book is made up of a series of dialogues between leading biological and social scientists that were taped at a series of consultations held at the University of Minnesota's

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on 27 -28

November 1989. The participants in the series "were asked to identify the implications of global change for agricultural research priorities into the twenty -first century." Three general topic areas provide the framework for the discussions.

The first focuses on the current thinking about global climate change. The second addresses the broad impacts and effects of this change on agriculture and natural resources, including specific problems of pests and soil productivity in both temperate and tropical regions. The final section considers the implications for agricultural research, particularly at the federal and state levels. Suggestions include concentrating efforts on pesticide alternatives, biomass for energy, water use efficiency, and more information on the processes of land degradation, such as desertification, salinization, and erosion. A concluding chapter presents a framework for future research in eight broad categories: alternative land use, monitoring programs, technologies for more efficient water management, modeling efforts, farming systems, government subsidy programs, alternative food systems, and incentive compatible institutional design.

!World Commission on Environment and Development,

Brundtland Commission. 1987. Food 2000: global policies for sustainable agriculture. London and Atlantic Highlands,

New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd. xi + 131 pages.

The Panel on Food Security, Agriculture, Forestry, and

Environment was set up by the World Commission on

Environment and Development to suggest strategies for solving the concurrent problems of worldwide environmental degradation and increasing hunger. In building a framework for the discussion, the report describes the paradox of our time: enormous food surpluses gained through environmentally wasteful agricultural practices occur simultaneously with growing masses of chronically hungry people living in absolute poverty. Both environmental thinking and development thinking are challenged for their relevance: "Conservation of resources is undermined by the greed of some of the rich and the desperation of the poor; commodity production cannot be sustained while the ecological base degrades." A new analysis of the situation puts forth the concept of

"sustainable livelihood security" as the goal that ultimately will stabilize human population, ensure good husbandry through an equitable allocation of resources, and contribute to the development of secure national economies. The world's current agricultural situation is assessed on a regional basis, with potential solutions to critical problems offered.

Opportunities for improvements in land reform, pest management, energy usage, and protecting our natural resources are identified and a criteria for establishing government policy is outlined.

!Young, M.D. (ed.). 1991. Towards sustainable agricultural development. London: Belhaven Press, in association with the Organization for Economic Co- operation and


Experts from eight countries prepared reports that addressed the causes and policy considerations of environmental problems associated with many agricultural practices for the Organization for Economic Co- operation and

Development's (OECD) ad hoc Group on Agriculture and the Environment. In addition, two other reports were commissioned that focused on the impact of urban pollution on agriculture. Studies look at the use of agricultural chemicals in Germany, Sweden, and the United States; animal production in France and The Netherlands; soil erosion in

Portugal and the United States; and land -use patterns in

Austria and the United Kingdom. The effects of air pollution and sewage sludge on agriculture also are evaluated. An introductory chapter provides a summary of the principal problems and issues examined in the case studies and a concluding chapter summarizes the need for an integration of agricultural and environmental policies and the compromises that will be required for success.

Texts Focusing on Developing Countries

Anderson, A.B. (ed.). 1990. Alternatives to deforestation: steps toward sustainable use of the Amazon Rain

Forest. New York: Columbia University Press. 281 pages.

"The tragedy of deforestation in Amazonia as well as elsewhere in the tropics is that its costs, in economic, social, cultural, and aesthetic terms, far outweigh its benefits." This volume, the result of an international conference held in

Belem, Brazil, 27 -30 January 1988, explores a number of alternatives to tropical deforestation. Chapters are presented in the context of five general sections: 1) background to the dynamics and causes; 2) studies of natural forest management in South and Central America; 3) examples of agroforestry practices in Brazil and Ecuador; 4) landscape recovery through secondary forests and pasture stabilization, and 5) implications for regional development and analysis of alternatives. Suggestions for policy changes include cutting official incentives that favor damaging land use, relieving centrifugal pressures, consolidating existing settlement, and encouraging less detrimental forms of new settlement.


Beets, W.C. 1990. Raising and sustaining productivity of smallholder farming systems in the tropics: a handbook of sustainable agricultural development. Alkmaar, The

Netherlands: AgBe Publishing. 738 pages.

This massive handbook, designed for educators, students, researchers, and government officials, provides a multidisciplinary, systems approach to the development of the small farm in the tropics. Throughout the work there is concern expressed for developing more sustainable and environmentally balanced practices and for addressing the growing world food problem. Emphasis is on low -input


12 agriculture based specifically on farmers' perceived needs.

Broad -based chapters present comprehensive discussions on: 1) the characteristics of tropical farming systems, including constraints to and possibilities for raising productivity; 2) political factors affecting agricultural development; 3) an historical review of the farming systems approach; 4) a description of the farming environment in the tropics, and 5) the sociological aspects of agricultural development. In addition, seven types of crop -based tropical farming systems are defined and specific techniques for increasing productivity and improving overall systems are outlined. Bibliographies follow each chapter and appendices include a glossary and definition of farming systems development concepts. A planned second volume will contain information supportive of topics presented in the first.

Child, R.D., et al. 1984. Arid and semiarid lands: sustainable use and management in developing countries. Morrilton,

Arkansas, USA: Winrock International. 208 pages.

Emphasis is on Africa in this review paper prepared for the

U.S. National Park Service and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The purposes of the study are

1) to identify current knowledge on environmentally sound management practices for rangelands in developing countries, and 2) to verify the appropriateness of using integrated approaches to the development of arid and semiarid lands.

Intended as a design aid for development agencies, the paper suggests project planning must consider the ecological and socioeconomic environment if natural resources are to be protected and the well -being of the population ensured. The first section describes the various types of rangeland systems, including the people, animals, and institutions that impact their development. The second section reviews rangeland resource assessment, integrated resource planning, and management strategies.

Conway, G.R. and E.B. Barbier. 1990. After the green revolution: sustainable agriculture for development. London:

Earthscan Publications Ltd. 205 pages.

This book is based on the experiences of the International

Institute for Environment and Development's (IIED) Sustainable Agriculture Programme between 1986 and 1989. It draws on knowledge gained from fieldwork in Indonesia, Thailand,

Sudan, Nepal, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Kenya and suggests new approaches for development programs to take if they are to contribute to creating lasting solutions to the world food crisis.

Three main themes are emphasized: 1) trade -offs between sustainability, high productivity, stability, and equity must be recognized; 2) problems must be tackled simultaneously at the local, national, and international levels, and 3) development must be based on an analysis of each level, their relationships to each other and to other development objectives. It is suggested that research priorities and policy measures should address the problems of developing marginal lands and should take into consideration farmers' own goals and needs. Rapid rural appraisal methods are discussed as a means for collecting local information to be used by policy makers at the national and international levels.




















\A N aDavis, T.J., and I.A. Schirmer (eds.). 1987. Sustainability issues in agricultural development: proceedings of the seventh agricultural sector symposium. Washington, D.C.:

The World Bank. viii + 383 pages.

Recognizing the fundamental contribution of natural and human resources to economic development and the growing concern with environmental issues in developing countries,

The World Bank focused its Seventh Agricultural Sector

Symposium on the theme of sustainability. Papers addressed three general topics: institutional development, natural resource management, and diversification. Institution building in the research sector was examined, as were farmers' organizations, marketing institutions, local governments, and ministries. The session on natural resource management covered a variety of topics, from problems of desertification and salinity to development of fisheries and the preservation of germplasm. Crop diversification, commodity analysis, and post- harvest considerations also were discussed.


Dellere, R. 1989. Land and food: the challenge of sustainable agriculture in the tropics. Wageningen, The

Netherlands: The Technical Centre for Agricultural and

Rural Cooperation. 96 pages.

This unique work is a combination of aerial photographs and text illustrating human impact on land and water resources, particularly in the marginal areas of lesser developed countries. The consequences of human pressure on the landscape are graphically displayed in pictures of deforestation, overgrazing, erosion, and water pollution. Brief comments describing the forces at work complement each photograph. Although the intent of the book is to heighten awareness of the widespread devastation occurring in many parts of the world, examples of appropriate land use, such as terrace and contour farming, also are included. Introductory and concluding essays summarize the issues facing agricultural development today and suggest interventions and countermeasures to ensure the conservation of the natural environment. Although it is pointed out that "what we do inevitably lags behind the best that we know," the author believes governments and people will mobilize their efforts if they become aware of what is at stake.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United

Nations. 1990. The conservation and rehabilitation of

African lands: an international scheme. Rome: FAO. 38 pages.

This glossy, well - illustrated report documents the degradation of Africa's croplands, savannah, bush, and forests, and puts forward a plan of action to address the crisis. Part I examines the reasons indigenous farming systems and many past conservation efforts have failed. New strategies for appropriate land use are outlined, based on an analysis of the causes of land degradation and the direct involvement of the farmer in the solution. Part II presents a five -part framework for national, regional, and international efforts to control degradation. First, national governments are called upon to take steps to improve land use, encourage farmer participa-


14 tion, and develop national institutions to support farmers.

Regional training, research, and information exchange programs also should be further strengthened. Finally, governments should coordinate with international organizations to assist in developing long -term programs and to obtain the necessary financial support to meet their program goals.

Gholz, H.L. (ed.). 1987. Agroforestry: realities, possibilities, and potentials. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus

Nijhoff Publishers. 227 pages.

"Trees, crops, and animals have traditionally been raised together on small farms throughout the world." Large -scale agriculture and forestry monocultures that have dominated temperate zones fail in the lesser developed world.

Agroforestry (land management combining trees with annual crops and /or animals) offers sustainable land use for fragile ecosystems. The first section provides literature reviews and perspectives on soil productivity, plant - insect interactions, nitrogen- fixation, and wildlife resources. The second section includes case histories from India, Nigeria, Central America, and Peru.

Jodha, N.S., M. Banskota, and T. Partap (eds.). 1992.

Sustainable mountain agriculture: perspectives and issues.

New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. 807 pages.

This two -volume work documents the results of the initial phase of research conducted by the Mountain Farming

Systems Division of the International Centre for Integrated

Mountain Development (ICIMD) in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Problem- oriented research in selected areas of the Hindu

Kush -Himalayan Region involved the collaboration of research institutions in China, India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Development policies and crop, livestock, and horticultural systems were reviewed, as were underexploited plant genetic resources, beekeeping, and rural institutions. Papers presented at the International Symposium for Strategies on

Sustainable Mountain Agriculture, held at Kathmandu, 10-

14 September 1990, also are included.

%VRP/McDougall, E.A. (ed.). 1990. Sustainable agriculture in

Africa. Proceedings of the Agricultural Systems and Research Workshop and Selected Papers from the Canadian

Association of African Studies meeting, University of

Alberta, Edmonton, May 1987. Trenton, New Jersey USA:

Africa World Press, Inc. 335 pages.

The "crises in Africa" prompted a series of workshops linked to the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of

African Studies to discuss agriculture, its impact on fragile environments, and the human resources involved. Particular emphasis was placed on farming systems research and the role women play as food producers and processors. Part I presents a thorough review of the discussions held on sustainable agriculture, community forestry, farming systems research, and women in agriculture. Recommendations included the need for more local -level research, more attention to holistic and multi- disciplinary research, and the need for more effective means to assess projects. Unnecessary duplication of effort was identified as a major constraint to sustainable development. Part II includes papers on sustainable agriculture; development projects in Nigeria, Sierra

Leone, and East Africa, as well as a number of village -level projects in Ghana, Botswana, and Nigeria; economic policy; problems of land use in arid and semiarid lands, and African agriculture in a historical context. An extensive annotated bibliography on agriculture in Africa and a list of workshop participants conclude the volume.

*National Research Council (U.S.), Committee on

International Soil and Water Research and Development.

1991. Toward sustainability: soil and water research priorities for developing countries. Washington, D.C.:

National Academy Press. 65 pages.

Building on a holistic view of agricultural development, this report presents a broad agenda for directing worldwide international research and development efforts related to the use of soil and water resources. In an overview and general framework, soil and water research priorities are set for areas with high population growth, such as Africa, Latin America, and Asia. These include overcoming institutional constraints on resource conservation, enhancing soil biological processes, managing soil properties, improving water resource management, matching crops to environments, and incorporating social and cultural dimensions. The committee suggests an integrated research strategy that requires institutional mechanisms and structures linking research organizations with clients and also with the different components of research. Additional mechanisms are needed to reassess research priorities on an ongoing basis and to create locally oriented data about soil and water resources.


Okigbo, B.N. 1991. Development of sustainable agricultural production systems in Africa: roles of international agricultural research centers and national agricultural research systems. Ibadan, Nigeria: International Institute of

Tropical Agriculture. 66 pages.

This report is based on the first lecture in the Distinguished African Scientist Lecture Series, delivered at the

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on 26 April

1989. Through an in -depth review of the literature, the author traces the scope and complexity of the sustainability issue and stresses the importance of including cultural factors in the development process. A discussion of territorialism provides the backdrop for the agricultural situation in Africa.

In addition, there is a general description of the continent's climatic and vegetation zones, and water, soil, and energy resources. Human resources, including the status of educational, research, and training institutions, also are summarized. Taking a sustainability perspective, strategies for increasing food production are considered, including cultivation expansion, genetic improvement of crops and livestock, use of mechanization, forest and fisheries management, pasture improvement, integrated pest management, and post-

harvest technology. The complexities of designing sustainable agricultural systems are assessed and suggestions are made for expanding the roles of International Agricultural

Research Centers (IARC) and National Agricultural Research

Systems (NARS).

2) accelerating the pace of plant breeding; 3) reclaiming poor soils; 4) fixing nitrogen through biological means, and 5) creating biological pesticides.

Six papers discuss the implications of biotechnology for developing countries, given the present situation. Concerns over access, research priorities, export substitution, control over plant genetic resources, and intellectual property protection are described as issues fueling North -

South conflict. Six additional papers suggest policy options and strategies for building local capacity and for working toward greater international cooperation.

:Thurston, H.D. 1992. Sustainable practices for plant disease management in traditional farming systems.

Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, Inc. 279 pages.

Traditional farming systems are defined in this book as those indigenous agricultural systems developed over the last

10,000 years. The author believes that more environmentally sound agricultural development will result when this traditional knowledge is combined with modern farming practices. Seeking to redress the paucity of information available on traditional pest management strategies, this book provides a historical review of pesticide use, biological control, and cultural practices for planting, land preparation (fire, flooding, mulching, soil amendments, raised beds, rotations, terraces, and tillage) and crop manipulations. The importance of safeguarding plant diversity also is discussed.

Contains an extensive bibliography on the topics of traditional farming systems, management of plant diseases by traditional farmers, and modern farming practices for disease management in traditional systems.

, 6 Wolf, E.C. 1986. Beyond the green revolution: new

Research and Information System for the Non -Aligned and

Other Developing Countries (RIS). 1988. Biotechnology revolution and the Third World: challenges and policy options. New Delhi: Research and Information System for the

Non -Aligned and Other Developing Countries. x + 451 pages.

This volume addresses the potentials and hazards of developing biotechnologies for developing countries.

An overview chapter summarizes development possibilities, Third World concerns, and policy directions reviewed more fully in subsequent chapapproaches for Third World agriculture. Washington, D.C.:

Worldwatch Institute. 46 pages.

The benefits of the post -World War II green revolution typified by dramatic increases in crop yields have been unevenly distributed. Agriculture based on high costs and energy inputs does not meet the needs of the small farmer in developing countries (and, increasingly, in the U.S.). The harsh

A SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE environmental and economic conditions under which most Third

World farmers work must be considered by researchers as they look for new methods for increasing ters. Five contributions, comprising the first part of the book, look specifically at how biotechnology might enhance agricultural systems in developing countries and influence small farmers to use more sustainable prac-


FARMING SYSTEMS THAT ARE the world's food supply. Two promising technical opportunities for developing better management approaches are the reappraisal of traditional farming practices and the application of biotechnologies.

tices. Some examples are: 1) enhancing the efficiency of photosynthesis;




Bezdicek, D.F. and J.F. Power

(eds.). 1984. Organic farming: current technology and its role in a sustainable agriculture. ASA

Special Publication Number 46.

Proceedings of a symposium held in

Atlanta, Georgia, 29 November - 3

December 1981. Madison, Wisconsin USA: American

Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil

Science Society of America. 192 pages.

This volume is the result of a symposium held at the 1981

American Society of Agronomy annual meetings that focused on investigating alternative farming methods to reduce production costs, improve crop quality, and reduce environmental impacts. The intent of the papers presented was to document current knowledge of low -input and biological production systems and to identify subject areas requiring further research. Major topics covered include meeting crop nutrient needs through organic sources; using crop rotation and minimum tillage for erosion control; reducing pesticide inputs, and examining the economic and social significance of employing organic farming techniques.



Texts Focusing on

U.S. Agriculture

Francis, C.A., C.B. Flora, and L.D. King (eds.). 1990.

Sustainable agriculture in temperate zones. New York: John

Wiley & Sons, Inc. xiii + 487 pages.

Primarily focused on agriculture in the United States, this book attempts to demonstrate that "agriculture can be made


16 productive, environmentally sound, and resource efficient."

Although alternative farming systems are considered, the emphasis is on using advances in new technologies and systems approaches to create ecologically acceptable agricultural practices. Chapters address practical aspects of plant breeding, pest management systems, weed management, crop rotations, soil fertility, pasture management, and the integration of livestock into the farming system. The economics of low -input farming systems and rural communities is analyzed, as is the affect of governmental policy on agricultural sustainability. Future directions for education and research also are suggested.

Granatstein, D. 1990. Amber waves: a sourcebook for sustainable dryland farming in the northwestern United

States. Pullman, Washington: Washington State University,

College of Agriculture and Home Economics Research

Center. 82 pages.

Concerns about soil degradation, dependence on petroleum -based inputs, the dominance of wheat, and crop drought stress have prompted many to rethink current farming practices. This publication is based on the results of the Northwest Dryland Cereal /Legume Cropping Systems project, which was started in 1988 to examine options for sustainable dryland farming. After a review of agroclimatic considerations, including classifications for six states in the western United States, three interrelated themes are developed: moisture management, cropping systems, and soil quality. The final chapter is a resource guide to sustainable agriculture in the dryland northwest of the United States.

Included are lists of research resources, educational and service resources, and printed and computer information sources. A list of suppliers of sustainable agriculture products and services also is provided.

Lockeretz, W. (ed.). 1987. Sustaining agriculture near cities. Ankeny, Iowa USA: Soil and Water Conservation

Society. 295 pages.

This book contains a selection of papers presented at the

National Conference on Sustaining Agriculture Near Cities, held in Boston, Massachusetts, on 20 -21 November 1986.

The first section assesses the advantages and disadvantages of farming in the periphery of urban communities. Topics include the high price of land and labor, the loss of political influence, limitations on production methods owing to neighbor's complaints, loss of input suppliers, vandalism, and theft. Papers in the second section look at political and social issues affecting the metropolitan farm. The third section provides examples of land use change and discusses problems with water rights and allocation. The final section, on strategies for farmland preservation, includes chapters on right -to -farm laws and use -value assessment.


Matheson, N., B. Rushmore, J.R. Sims, M. Spengler, and

E.L. Best. 1991. Cereal - legume cropping systems: nine farm case studies in the dryland Northern Plains, Canadian

Prairies and Intermountain Northwest. Helena, Montana

USA: Alternative Energy Resources Organization. 75 pages.

This short book gives "an armchair tour of nine of the best cereal- legume cropping systems" that the Alternative Energy

Resource Organization found in the semiarid regions of the

Northern Rocky Mountains, Plains, and Prairies. The case studies describe alternative farming practices already proven workable. Conventional agricultural systems rely on heavy use of off -farm inputs, while the nine case studies presented here use as few off -farm inputs as possible. Each case study includes basic rotation descriptions and its effect on weeds, insect pests, disease, soil fertility and condition; the farmer's objectives for the rotation; marketing arrangements; labor and equipment used, and the integration of livestock rotation, where applicable. The book's target audience is primarily agriculturalists who are considering a shift to a more sustainable farming system. One chapter specifically discusses the shift. The information gives a realistic view of basic requirements to make the shift, including the time required.

Matheson, N. (ed.). 1989. AERO's guide to sustainable agriculture in the Northern Rockies and Plains. Helena,

Montana USA: Alternative Energy Resources Organization.

100 pages.

This guide provides information about practitioners of sustainable agriculture in the Northern Plains and Rocky

Mountains of the United States and the Southern Plains and

Rocky Mountains of Canada. Individuals in the region are listed, along with their management objectives and types of practices used to meet those objectives. The operations include a variety of crops, livestock, or a combination of the two. Goals most frequently mentioned were increased soil fertility, soil conservation, crop yield and quality, pest control, water conservation, and reducing inputs or costs.

Practices used to meet the objectives were crop rotation, gravity flow irrigation, mulching, pest- resistant crop varieties, soil testing, timed planting, and wildlife habitat. Many more are included. The geographic scope covers seven states

(Montana, Wyoming, western North and South Dakota,

Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington) and two Canadian provinces (Alberta and Saskatchewan).

National Research Council (U.S.), Board on Agriculture.

1991. Sustainable agriculture research and education in the field: a proceedings. Washington, D.C.: National

Academy Press. 437 pages.

This proceedings volume includes papers and research reports presented at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education in the Field workshop held 3 -4 April 1990 and sponsored by both the Office of Science and Education, U.S.

Department of Agriculture, and the Board on Agriculture.

Five papers in Part One provide an overview of sustainable agriculture research programs in the U.S. today. Economic considerations also are discussed. Parts Two through Five contain regional reports on specific studies, ranging from comparisons of organic and traditional production systems to discussions of integrated pest management programs and low input farming systems. Part Six assesses the progress of

sustainable agricultural research. Poster session presentations and a review of expert systems comprise the Appendices.


National Research Council (U.S.), Board on Agriculture,

Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods in

Modern Production Agriculture. 1989. Alternative agriculture. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 448 pages.

In the context of increasing agricultural production costs and a concern over the long -term environmental consequences of traditional agriculture in the U.S., the Board on

Agriculture appointed a committee to study alternative production systems. This final report examines the viability of these systems for achieving "three goals: 1) keeping U.S.

farm exports competitive; 2) cutting production costs; 3) reducing the environmental consequences of farming." Part

One includes chapters on the characteristics of U.S. agriculture since World War II, the economic and environmental problems faced by today's farmers and government policymakers, alternative farming practices such as crop rotations and integrated pest management, and the economic benefits of alternative systems. Part Two describes the operation of 14 farms effectively using a combination of alternative and conventional practices. Each case study provides a description of practices and performance levels.

Perry, D.A. et al. (eds.). 1989. Maintaining the long -term productivity of Pacific Northwest forest ecosystems.

Portland, Oregon USA: Timber Press. 256 pages.

In the spring of 1987, Oregon State University hosted a symposium with two objectives: 1) to produce a document summarizing current knowledge on the effect of various forest management practices on long -term productivity and 2) to provide a guide to sustainable forest management. The resulting proceedings volume includes 14 chapters, ranging from general overviews of the principles for sustaining forest productivity to discussions of soil management and erosion control. Management practices used in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California are described and the ecological and economic aspects of long -term productivity are evaluated.

Although some papers present divergent points of view on the effects of various management practices, there was agreement on the importance of protecting soil organic matter and the need for further information on the processes effecting productivity and stability.

Poincelot, R.P. 1986. Toward a more sustainable agriculture. Westport, Connecticut USA: AVI Publishing

Company, Inc. 241 pages.

Making a case for changing traditional agricultural practices, the author outlines the major problems facing farmers in the United States today. High energy costs, concerns with water quality, and losses in soil productivity are generating the necessary interest for making the transition to a more sustainable agriculture. If this transition is to be successful, more interdisciplinary research will be necessary and the results of that research must be distributed to the general public and to agricultural educators, extension personnel, farmers, and policymakers who directly affect dayto -day operations. By using existing USDA and Land Grant university resources, research programs could be developed to facilitate the needed changes. Chapters detail methods and techniques for achieving sustainability through greater energy efficiency, including: 1) organic farming; 2) crop conservation; 3) greenhouse conservation; 4) animal husbandry conservation; 5) postproduction conservation, and 6) sustaining soil and water resources. Also assessed for their economic and environmental potential are new technologies such as solar power, wind power, and biotechnology.

:United States Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. 1983. Water- related technologies for sustainable agriculture in the United States arid /semiarid lands. Part

One: assessment of the United States; Part Two: a foreign experience. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Part One, 412 pages; Part Two, 82 pages.

In Part One, the role of present and emerging water technologies for sustaining agricultural production in arid and semiarid regions of the United States is assessed. The capacity of existing institutions to respond effectively and equitably to growing demands and concerns about water quality are discussed in two sections: the first describes present technologies and the demands placed upon them, and the second considers future technologies and assesses their impact on the environment and agriculture production.

This research is based on how the renewable natural resource base is affected over the "long- term" (i.e., at least one human lifespan). In Part Two, collaborative projects in arid and semiarid regions are discussed, including bean research in

Guatemala and Mexico, cowpea research in Senegal, game ranching in Africa, water management in Pakistan, and a national water policy in Israel that involves farmers in the design, manufacture, and application of new water management devices and techniques.


We used a number of different approaches to identify

English - language periodicals with sustainable agriculture content. Our first strategy was to search the CAB AB-

STRACTS and AGRICOLA databases, using the keyword

"sustainable agriculture." Although these searches netted many relevant articles, it became clear that other related terms could greatly increase and broaden the search results.

Articles on alternative agriculture, low -input agriculture, organic farming, and agroecology all were found to contribute to the general knowledge -base in the field. Using these terms, we also searched Current Contents, a weekly publication that reproduces tables of contents from major journals and books. Finally, we retrieved titles from a subject search

(sustainable agriculture: periodicals) on two network databases, OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and

RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network). From these


18 searches we compiled a list of journal titles most often publishing information on issues of sustainability. We compared our list with the National Agricultural Library's

(NAL) publication Periodicals pertaining to alternative farming systems, September 1991, by Jane Potter Gates

(obtainable free -of- charge from NAL). The serial titles listed in the first section below are ones we did not find listed in the NAL publication, but which we found consistently to contribute to the field. A second list follows, composed of periodical titles that occasionally publish articles on the topic. Lastly, we present a review of several journals that have focused an entire issue on the subject of sustainability.

Additions to NAL's Periodicals Pertaining to

Alternative Farming Systems

m Abstracts on sustainable agriculture: ABSTRECO.

1989 -. Agricultural University, Department of Ecological

Agriculture, Wageningen, The Netherlands. (Each volume consists of eight numbers; the series continues: abstract bulletin on sustainable agriculture.) a Abstracts on sustainable agriculture. 1988 -. Deutsches

Zentrum fur Entwicklungstechnologien, Eschborn, Germany.

(Annual imprint.)

44 Gatekeeper series. 1987 ?

-. International Institute for

Environment and Development, London, United Kingdom.

(Irregular; a publication of the Sustainable Agriculture

Programme.) alk International ag- sieve. May -June 1988 -. Rodale

Institute, Emmaus, Pennsylvania. (Bimonthly; published by

Rodale International 1988- 1990 ?; Rodale Institute 1990 - ?)

Journal Titles With

Occasional Relevant Articles

Agri -Briefs

Australian Journal of Soil Research

Agricultural Systems

Agriculture Administration and Extension


Applied Geography

Agricultural Science

Canadian Journal of Agriculture Economics

Chemistry and Industry



Economics , and Ethics

Food Policy

Fertiliser News

In Good Tilth

Journal of Nutritional Education

Journal of Production Agriculture

Journal of International Development

MFA Digest

Outlook on Agriculture

Plant Cell

Trends in Biotechnology

Unasylva (ICRAF, Nairobi)

Special Edition Journals

Resources, No. 106. 1992. Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future.

An introductory essay by the editor (J. Darmstadter) outlines the global environmental and development problems being discussed in such forums as the United Nations

Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

The difficulty of finding agreement on priorities and financing to alleviate the threats to atmospheric integrity, biodiversity, and human health are considered. This special edition attempts to examine the complex and sometimes sensitive issues that must be addressed if countries are to meet their economic potential while improving and preserving the environment. Articles address a variety of topics: the definition of sustainability, the relationship between the natural world and economics, population issues, agricultural sustainability, adaptability to climatic changes, the global water problem, biodiversity, energy transitions, and using benefit -cost analysis to prioritize environmental problems.

a Low input farming: a special issue of Outlook on Agriculture 21(1). 1992. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Editorial and introductory essays on the nature of sustainability in agriculture set the tone for this special journal issue largely devoted to the theme of low -input farming. The first of four articles on the subject looks at the state of alternative agriculture in the United States since the

U.S. Congress initiated the low -input sustainable agriculture

(LISA) program in 1988. Alternative agricultural practices are discussed and evaluated for their economic viability.

Barriers to farmers adopting new practices are outlined, including current farm subsidy programs based on yields and acreage planted. The second article considers livestock production in the varying climatic zones found in developing countries. Findings of a farming systems research project in semiarid Kenya are presented in the third paper. After searching for a cost -effective soil enrichment strategy, the authors put forward the hypothesis that modest fertilizer use holds the most promise for successful and sustainable farming in this climatic zone. The final article looks at the potential of the Integrated Farming System (IFS) for European agriculture.

sw r otJournal of Soil and Water Conservation 45(1). 1990.

Ankeny, Iowa: Soil and Water Conservation Society.

In an opening editorial, Richard Duesterhaus, president of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, dedicated this issue of the Journal to help promote the maintstreaming of sustainable practices into conventional agriculture. Twenty-

two feature articles cover topics ranging from agricultural policy, research needs, and cropping systems, to the development of wheatgrass as a perennial grain crop. Six commentaries discuss the human element in solving today's agricultural problems and the potential for achieving an improved environment. A final section includes 11 reports describing the results of various research projects conducted largely in the midwestern U. S. Soil properties, economic impacts, and techniques for reducing field losses of nitrogen are analyzed.




INFORUM is an international organization created in

1990 by scientists from around the world to support the development of sustainable land use systems. To promote this development, INFORUM is laying the groundwork for establishing a global information exchange program focusing on three major components: (1) information exchange, (2) electronic conferencing on specific sustainable land use topics, and (3) support activities. Cooperating institutions worldwide will have access to planned electronic systems and will provide input. INFORUM also plans to provide training in electronic communications for personnel at those institutions.

Several INFORUM services are available now. In the

LIBRARY conference, users can review abstracts and full texts of documents on sustainable land use topics. BOOK-

STORE offers both reviews of books for sale and order forms.

The NEWS BUILDING conference offers job announcements, summaries of projects, upcoming training sessions, workshops, and symposia. NETWORKS BUILDING offers space for existing networks to improve their own information- sharing techniques or to develop links with other networks. Specialized conferences also can be established through the system.

For information on how to become involved in

INFORUM, contact Dr. Robert Hall, 611 Siegfriedale Rd.,

Kutztown PA 19539 USA; telephone, 215 -683 -6383; FAX,

215 -683 -8548.

The Sustainable Action Network (SAN) in the U.S.

produces publications, displays, a directory of sources of information (see SAN above), and electronic networking.

One service available on the Internet system is the Showcase

Bibliography on Sustainable Agriculture, an annotated list of publications related to alternative agriculture in the U.S.

It includes books, reports, journals, directories, newsletters, and brochures. It is retrieved by sending a message (body) of send extension showcase all to: almanac For more information, contact Information Group, Sustainable

Agriculture Research and Education Program, University of

California, Davis CA 95616 USA.


Although we did not plan to include information on audio -visual programs, an announcement for a new videotape series brought this type of information resource to our attention. Rooy Media and Rodale Institute recently produced six half -hour videotapes that provide an introduction to the topics of field crops, rotational grazing, vegetables, integrated pest management for vegetables and small fruits, integrated pest management for apples, and high -value marketing. Titled Farmer -to- farmer: strategies for sustainable agriculture, the series focuses on farmers talking about their experiences in lowering, and sometimes eliminating, the use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers.

Other audio -visual programs can be identified through several of the publications described in the section above headed INFORMATION RESOURCES. In addition, the organization ATTRA produced Videos /slides /tapes, a list of audiovisual materials developed by organizations interested in promoting sustainable agriculture. Published in August 1991, the list identifies potential audiences, running times, and ordering information.


1 1949. A Sand County almanac. New York: Oxford University Press. Pages 224 -25.

21989. Toward a sustainable agriculture: need for clarification of concepts and terminology. In American Journal of

Alternative Agriculture 4(3):102.

3 1981. The gift of good land: further essays cultural and agricultural. San Francisco: North Point Press. Page 136.

4 1990. Sustainable agriculture in temperate zones. New York:

John Wiley & Sons. Page viii.

5 1990. Sustainable agriculture. In Scientific American June:


61989. Sustainable agriculture. In Proceedings outlook '90:

66th agricultural outlook conference. Washington, D.C.:

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Page 202.

Barbara Hutchinson is Director of the Arid Lands Information Center,

Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona. Jodee

Kawasaki is a Reference Librarian at the Montana State University

Libraries, Bozeman. Carla Long Caster is Project Librarian at the Arid

Lands Information Center. All are interested in hearing from readers familiar with new audio- visual programs related to sustainable agriculture. Write to them in care of the Arid Lands Newsletter.







20 he economic and political linkages between urban centers and the larger regions they inhabit constitute invisible structures that control development of both urban and rural form.

Cities are home to half the global population of our species. They are centers of power, and as such function as the fulcrum for levering the world toward a sustainable future. As John Tepper Marlin wrote, "The world's largest cities are the global centers of creativity and the well- springs of national economic growth." 1 But the world's largest cities also are global centers of environmental destruction, driving, for example, the spread of desertification.

Dryland ecologies are finely balanced, adapted to exchanging energy and materials with low total biomass. With intermittent and limited water supplies, arid and semiarid ecosystems are particularly susceptible to human misuse. Vegetation cover in


dryland regions is crucial to the physical and organic stability of the soil. Creation of cities invariably has involved destruction of vegetation, with clearance for agriculture and use of wood for fuel and in construction.2 The results of this process can be found around the

a t

world .3

Food availability controls human population, and loss of food


supply may lead to the decline of a civilization. The change from preda-

a t'

tor and scavenger to domesticator of plants and animals 10,000 years ago supported the innovation of well -fed, static

11 populations.4Cities requireagricultural expansion to support their growing populations, and rural economies and landscapes owe their existence to the city -one requires the others -but "city- making" has been an environmental disaster. From the loss of topsoil in ancient

Greece to the desertification of today, the city has been the eye of a storm of destruction raging through the biosphere.

Unfortunately, our understanding of the connections between the artificial processes of making settlement and the natural processes that shape and make the landscape remains severely limited.


Australia is highly urbanized, with cities containing 85 percent of the population. From the beginning, settlements took advantage of the "boundless" landscape. Mining for copper and other minerals accelerated land clearance in areas like Callington and Burra. With industrialization and the advent of cheap fossil fuels and mechanized transport came urban sprawl. The individual house on its own land became the suburban tradition in Australia. Neither the individual house nor the urban form as a whole have responded positively to the constraints of the land, climate, and ecology.

Adelaide provides a vivid example of how an Australian urban center dominates its hinterland. South Australia's

984,375 square kilometers cover an eighth of

Australia, but it is essentially a city- state; of

South Australia's total population of 1.3

million, the city of Adelaide claims about 1 million.

Adelaide is a frontier town, on the edge of desert and on the edge of ecological collapse, but its inhabitants still grow roses and exotics in determined pursuit of their "individual" dreams.

In South Australia, drought damage on Eyre

Peninsula and the choking salination in the Riverland and

South East are classical symptoms of a civilization breaching ecological limits. The Eyre Peninsula farmers' plight can be traced directly to demands of the capital city of Adelaide for wheat, meat, and profit, with the pressure to grow inappropriate crops coming from the same

"civilized" expectations that introduced rabbits for food and foxes for sport to a place that was proud to be called "a

`province', a part of England, rather than a mere colony. "6

Adelaide is a "classical" city, meaning that a military grid was imposed on the land with no consideration of the host environment except as domain to be conquered. Before South

Australia was even partially explored, Adelaide was built and clearance of the bush followed. After five generations, more

than four- fifths of the native vegetation had been cleared in the 15 percent of South Australia designated "agricultural"

(see below). An ecology the size of England was annihilated and replaced by a construction every bit as alien as the city that masterminded its creation.

In ancient Greece, Plato warned that continuing to clear vegetation would lead to the loss of the soil and its vital productive capacity. In South Australia, that astute warning has gone largely unheeded. 7 European settlement has changed the face of Australia forever, and towns and cities have been as ill attuned to their place as the agriculture they sponsored.



As Derek Whitelock observed,

"Even the once - dreaded mallee had been crushed, cleared and tamed, and turned into broad grazing and wheat and barley paddocks. Settlement had put down deep roots.... "8

Mallee is the term both for a low bushy eucalypt and for an ancient dry land ecosystem.9 The term comes from the aboriginal description of water mallee, a plant whose shallow lateral roots provided valuable drinking water.10 Since the beginning of European settlement, the "monotonous" mallee lands have been regarded as despicable and dangerous and have been almost completely cleared.

East of Adelaide the River Murray meanders muddily across denuded mallee lands. Adelaide is an end -user of the

Murray- Darling river system, gulping its polluted water when the reservoirs of the nearby Mount Lofty Ranges fail.

The basin is the largest water catchment in Australia. The mallee lands occupy much of the Murray -

Darling Basin and of the southern arid lands of Australia.

They also constitute some of the continent's most important ecological systems.

The reasons for the destruction of the mallee can be traced to the chauvinism of white colonists, for whom

"`Englishness' was the only yardstick by which civilization was measured. "11 The soil of Australia, especially in the extensive arid regions, is old and fragile. It took only sixteen years of settlement in Victoria to produce, by 1853, the first reports of severe land degradation.12 In northern South

Australia the degradation is the result primarily of grazing livestock, particularly sheep, in an ecosystem that had never evolved indigenous hard- footed animals. Land degradation now is recognized as being Australia's foremost environmental problem.

Accelerated climate change is likely to increase stress on the mallee and on other dryland ecosystems already faltering under the impact of Eurocentric land use; conservation of the western gray kangaroo and the hairy-nosed wombat, for example, is predicted to be of concern owing to loss of habitat.13 What's more, fossil fuel consumption contributes to the greenhouse effect and it is estimated that built environment decisions amount to about 50 percent of

Australia's national energy budget.14

In recent years, the impact of pastoralism on the South Australian northwest has been compounded by nuclear explosions, weapons testing,











and uranium mining. South of

Goyder's Line15 the vegetation was cleared for agriculture, and to the north the indigenous Kokatha people were cleared from the land to make way for the military at the behest of mandarins in Whitehall and Canberra.

Woomera was established as a military new town to serve the

Anglo- Australian rocket testing program in the late 1940s. Nearby

Roxby Downs was established in

1986 as a company town to provide habitation for uranium and copper miners and their families. Both towns were settlements planted in

"wilderness" with little regard for the environment (notwithstanding the attempts by Western Mining to make Roxby Downs fit the desert regime; it is a water -conserving suburb compared with metropolitan

Adelaide, but it is nonetheless a lawned suburb dependent on fossil water from the Great Artesian

Basin -and with no rainwater tanks allowed! 16).


Because there was little evidence of architectural response to climate and place in Australia prior to European settlement (early reports of semipermanent shelters notwithstanding), there was no vernacular building tradition for colonists to learn from as they invaded a landscape and confronted cultures they seemed determined not to understand. The drier areas of Australia were occupied by nomadic people and the climate there required little more than provision of simple, temporary shelters called wiltjas (literally, "shade" ).17

The aboriginal Australian home was not a house but a place, an area of tribal land.

Despite increasing awareness today of the need to preserve and appreciate indigenous fauna and flora, the "tradition" of















the stand -alone, verandahed bungalow on its quarter -acre block has persisted. This popular "Australian" stereotype sits alongside romanticized images of the bush. The aesthetic connection between house and landscape bears an inverse relationship to the functional connection.

There was no substantial research being done in Australia on arid zone vegetation until 1948 at



Australia has no university department of landscape architecture and the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden at

Port Augusta lacks government support. Little has been done to create gardening and landscaping practices appropriate to

Australian arid regions, although the scope is enormous.

There are some examples of what might be achieved using native vegetation (native gardens are called wirras19), but they have not been developed as integral to the urban or suburban built form.

Likewise, there is little evidence of approaches to urban or suburban design that exploit the qualities of native vegetation. The most lauded examples of modern regional "Australian" architecture, created by Glen Murcutt, "touch the land lightly" but in the final analysis use the land only as a backdrop to the ironic play of architectural forms -despite

Murcutt's avowed intent to make buildings belong to their place as much as the eucalypt does.20


Lessons drawn from aboriginal Australia have to do with accepting limits set by the land and with inhabiting a place, rather than a house, as the primary domiciliary act. Acceptance of limits means working with the indigenous ecology rather than against it. Strategies for inhabiting (or reinhabiting) a place are developing from modern concepts of bioregionalism, which stress the ecological relationships between people and their environment.21

This rediscovery of our place in the ecosystem has to be injected into the processes by which we govern our relationship to it. In practical terms, that means changing paradigms and processes through which we act on the world. Design of human settlement is the consequence of many factors, particularly economic ones. Economic and planning values need to reflect improved awareness of the worth of arid lands. No longer can we afford to see mallee as monotonous and despicable; the dollar worth of mallee land as a functioning ecosystem must exceed its worth as agricultural dirt or real estate. This implies a planning approach governed by land capability, with deemed economic values assessed accordingly.

In Australia there is strong awareness of the value of wilderness, but less understanding of the need for land care that extends from the wilderness into the city proper. The collective work of dedicated volunteers and enlightened bureaucrats (typical of the best of Australia's approach to its

problems) is changing this situation through such programs as Landcare and Trees For Life's Free Tree Scheme, but the city /country nexus is little understood as yet. Indeed, the

Landcare program in South Australia is one of many victims of financial fallout from the State Bank's disastrous foray into neous representation from community and environmental groups, the

Review revised its approach to

"things environmental;" as of Detheir very survival ultimately depends

on the survival of the despised

The federal government has been

conducting investigations into

the stress of high UV levels and climate change. (As Robin

Buchanan observed, "An essential ingredient in the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes, and a sign that the project is successful, is the return of native fauna to a new and viable habitat. "23) This web of ecology would link areas of remnant vegetation with areas of regeneration and town with country, rehabilitating degraded land as a primary goal of ecological the real estate speculation that characterized the "city brained" thinking of the 1980s. An additional consequence of this urban decision making has been the eviction of farmers and pastoralists from their properties as they defaulted on their loans, the storms of the economic climate proving harder to weather than the vagaries of nature.

The South Australian State Planning Review set out in 1990 to "speed up the development process." After some faltering public consultation exercises and considerable sponta-






APPROACH TO THE city making.24

In arid lands, the impact of urban centers is out of all proportion to their size because of their infrastructural demands. Reforming cities cannot proceed without also reforming agriculture and all aspects of energy production and use.

Mallee is dryland vegetation but, as in rainforests, most nutrients in the ecosystem are held in the biomass rather than in the soil; take away the biomass and, as in the removal of rainforests, the remaining soil is productive for a few short years before it dies.

Natural regeneration of mallee eucalypts is relatively difficult cember 1991 there was some indication that "ecology" would be on the agenda, but not at the core of the planning process. Given the conse-

EVOLUTION OF MODERN quences of urban settlement in South

Australia, it would be unfortunate if the review process resulted in a more of- the -same approach to development, but industrial and economic interests have yet to perceive that

"bush. "22

ESD: ecologically sustainable devel-


IF WE CAN DESTROY, opment. Nine working groups have been organized on traditional eco -nomic industry sector lines and urban



sustainablility has been a late -comer to their considerations.

because favorable conditions of seedfall, temperature, and rainfall rarely coincide. Economic conditions have not encouraged farmers to regenerate the mallee, yet its regeneration will not happen without substantial human intervention. A stable ecological base for the future requires a new component in the rural economy.

That component can be urban, but just as the original purpose of

Adelaide was to mastermind exploitation of the landscape, so the new purpose of urbanization would be restoration of the "bush."

A huge population is not necessary for a vital culture.



We can bring appropriate resources to bear and reverse the process of desertification by evolving a sustainable approach to the evolution of modern human settlement in arid lands. If we can destroy, we can repair.

Land capability should form the basis of all land use, and ecological corridors the framework of planning. Mature

"ecological cities" would possess a network of green corridors providing functional and aesthetic links between urban and rural, running from city center to wilderness. Huge linear wildlife reserves would link every part of the state, ensuring its ability to reestablish and adapt ecological systems under

Ancient cities were the size of modern towns. Decentralized cities or towns would make fresh new patterns, respecting the landscape and restoring the fragile arid land ecology.

Energy efficiency is one key to better urban form, but as

Jeffrey Cook observed of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon,

New Mexico (circa AD 800 -1100), "This highly successful preindustrial solar urban design ultimately failed by destroying the ecology of its supporting hinterland. "25

Rather than exploiting the ecology in the name of the economy, the ecology would be developed by exploiting the existing economic system. A solid base for a sustainable economy would be provided by recreating an ecology that fitted the land and climate. Farmers' debts would be forgiven in exchange for adopting new farming practices. Tree farms, native fruits, and "new" foodplants (familiar to indigenous



Australians) would gradually replace sheep, cattle, and corn.

New export opportunities would open up in a world desperate to diversify its food base as global monocultures fall prey to pests and nutrient starvation.

With ecology- centered thinking, new crops, new industries, and new ways of building would provide employment for those working with their heads or their hands. The exciting work to be done, from high -tech energy research and satellite mapping to hands -on revegetation projects, would reverse rural depopulation. Every arid land town would become a revitalized center, with new industries and crop development, renewable power generation, and energy research26 spearheading the development of sustainable human settlement. Urban regeneration would be driven by ecological restoration.


The ultimate impact of the chauvinist vision of the past is summarized in this brief passage from Derek Whitelock's classic book Conquest to Conservation :27

Back we sped over the comparatively neat wheat country, where the grain grows over the grave of the mallee -and galahs fly gorgeously into the sunset. Then the familiar, anglicized landscape of Adelaide, the tall trees, stone villas, parklands, and advertisement hoardings were all around us.

We need a new vision grounded in the full realization of place. With that vision brought to reality, so might the foregoing passage be rewritten:

Back we sped through the chaotically beautiful arid landscape, where the monotonous dying wheat fields have given way to productive mallee again acacias, sennas, pittosporum (native apricots) , sheoaks and native pines and all manner of bird and animal life sharing the sunset.

Then the new urban forms of Adelaide, the tall trees, adobe walls, wildlife corridors

, and cool towers were all around us.

South Australia could provide a model for the world, a regional example with global relevance, because the state extends across Mediterranean, savannah, and dryland areas, bioregions that around the world and throughout the history of civilization have led the growth of desertification and must now lead the fight against it.

Take time you earth fullas.

Let the spirit of this mighty land touch you as it touches my people.28


I John Tepper Marlin et al. 1986. Book of world city rankings, published for The Council on Municipal Performance.

The Free Press /Colin Macmillan.

2 Half of Earth's tree cover has been destroyed since the middle of the twentieth century.

3 "A historic example of the effects of man's (sic) abuse of the soil is all too plainly visible in North Africa, which once was the fertile granary of the Roman Empire and now is largely a desert or near desert...." Lester R Brown. 1971. Human food production as a process in the biosphere. In Man and the ecosphere : readings from Scientific American. San

Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company.

4 Ibid. Before humans domesticated nature, the biosphere could not support a human population of more than 10 million.

5 See P.F. Downton. 1989. Ecopolis: the new frontier. In

Proceedings of the 1989 Ecopolitics IV conference. The author was, at the time, unaware of Jane Jacobs' The economy of cities (1970. New York: Vintage), in which the first chapter is titled "Cities first, rural development later."

6 Derek Whitelock. 1985 (p. 36). Conquest to conservation : history of human impact on the South Australian environment;. Adelaide: Wakefield Press. This book provides a masterful account of what its title suggests and deserves to be recognized as a classic text.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid, p.106 -107.

9 "The mallee vegetation consists of a closed community dominated by various Eucalyptus spp.

, all of which have the habit of multiple stems growing from a lignotuberous rootstock....The understorey varies according to soil and climate from low sclerophyll shrubs, to semi -succulents with tussock plants, and then to hummocks of porcupine grass

(Triodia irritans)....The mallee community. if undisturbed... forms such a closed vegetation that few exotic or non -indigenous plants have invaded it.... On the other hand any level of human disturbance allows the invasion of many plants exotic to the mallee ecosystem, most of which are aliens to Australia." A.J. Waspshere. 1989 (p. 443).

Biological control of weeds In Mediterranean landscapes in

Australia: mallee ecosystems and their management,. edited by J.C. Noble and R.A. Bradstock. East Melbourne,

Victoria: CSIRO.

1° J.C. Noble and R.A. Bradstock. 1989. An historical overview of ecological studies. In Mediterranean landscapes in Australia: mallee ecosystems and their management. East Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

11 Robin A. Buchanan. 1989. Bush regeneration: recovering

Australian landscapes. Sydney: TAFE, NSW.

12 Ibid.

13 Lindsay Best. 1989. The greenhouse effect: the impact on semi -arid to arid rangelands. In Greenhouse `88: planning for climate change. edited by Tim Dendy. Adelaide:

Department of Environment and Planning.


Deborah White. 1989. The greenhouse comes to town. In

Greenhouse `88: Planning for climate change, edited by

Tim Dendy. Adelaide: Department of Environment and



Goyder's Line is a notional boundary to the "agricultural zone" defined by natural vegetation, roughly coinciding with an average minimum rainfall of 250 mm [101 p.a.


"The extraction of water from the Great Artesian Basin is threatening to destroy the delicate ecological balance of many of the mound springs (geological phenomena that result from millions of years of mineral -rich springs welling to the surface, creating unique oasis wetland habitats and ecosystems in the desert). Even before the advent of the

Roxby Downs mine

, water for pastoral uses was being drawn from the Great Artesian Basin at a much greater rate than it could be recharged, resulting in a lowering of the water table and the drying up of many bores and springs." Hannaford

Goodfield et al. 1991 (p. 46).Weapons in the wilderness : the exploitation of the north -west of South Australia.

Adelaide: Anti Bases Campaign (SA) Inc.


John Archer 1987. Building a nation: a history of the

Australian house. Sydney: Collins.

is R.H. Patterson. 1960. The climate, soils, plant ecology, arboricultural activities and vegetative development, weapons research project areas, North West Interior of South

Australia. Melbourne: Commonwealth Department of



Wal Bushman, 1985. Wirra: the bush that was Adelaide.

Adelaide: Nature Conservation Society of SA Inc.

20 Paul F. Downton. 1988. Glen Murcutt: a gutsy architect.


Building + Architecture 15(7).

Peter Berg. 1991. More than just saving what's left. Habitat

Australia 19(2).


The author was nominated to the Planning Review

Reference Group by the Australian Conservation

Foundation in August 1991. He has watched its activities, from both within and without, with a mixture of cautious optimism and utter despair as the forces of politics and vested interest have run their rather unecological course.


Robin A. Buchanan. 1989. Bush regeneration: recovering

Australian landscapes. Sydney: TAFE NSW.


For further reading on this proposal, see "Ecopolis: the new frontier" in the Proceedings of Ecopolitics 1V (1990);

"Ecopolis now!" in Habitat Australia 19(4); "Ecopolis: ecological cities, not technological nightmares" in Acres

Australia 5 (1991); and presentations in Report of the First

International Ecocity Conference: March 29 - April 1,

1990, published by Urban Ecology, Berkeley, California, and Cerro Gordo Town Forum, Dorena Lake, Oregon.


Jeffrey Cook. 1989. Post -industrial cultural regionalism. In


Proceedings of International Conference PLEA 1989

NARA. Nara, Japan.

South Australia has tremendous potential for developing a solar- energy -based economy. In 1972, Professor John

Bokris was proposing a solar- hydrogen power station at

Woomera (Peter Morton. 1989. Fire across the desert:

Woomera and the Anglo- Australian Joint Project 1946-

1980. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing

Service.). Bokris requested $20 million per annum to set up a facility, but was ignored by the government of the time and left for the USA.


Whitelock 1985:221.


Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Kabul Oodgeroo Noonuccal.

1988. The rainbow serpent. Canberra: AGPS.

Paul F. Downton is an architect and urban ecologist, a lecturer in architecture at the University of South Australia, convener of Urban

Ecology Australia, and director of Ecopolis Pty. Ltd.





26 astoral nomads practice a livelihood system that has supported human existence in harsh and risky dryland environments for millennia.

Maintaining sustainable use of such habitats is not an easy task. Nomadic pastoralists have been successful because they have operated within the physical constraints of their environment and have maximized the opportunities available to them. These mobile systems for exploiting dryland habitats were confined entirely to the Old World until the Columbian closure of the global ecosystem unleashed upon the New World's grassland ecosystems the domesticated livestock upon which Old World animal husbandry was based.

Pastoral nomadism today is a resource use system that is declining in numbers of practitioners and in territorial extent as alternative ways of managing and exploiting resources are developed (Galaty and Johnson 1990). Traditional pastoral areas nomadism often is blamed both for environmental problems and for the slow pace of modernization in rangeland management. Yet new modes of resource use are themselves often generators of serious environmental problems, which raises questions about their long -term sustainability. Exploration of how pastoralists used resources in the past, of where environmental and social problems have arisen when inappropriate changes have been introduced into traditional pastoral areas, and of what solutions might be adopted to promote sustainability in the future are the themes considered in this article.


The world's drylands often are inhospitable places.

Because they are deficient in that most essential component of life, water, they pose a great challenge to any creature that wishes to survive within them. Except around oases, or in mountain "islands" of moister conditions, or along the banks of the rare exotic stream, or in places where groundwater is close enough to the surface to be captured by traditional low technology techniques (hand -dug wells, qanats, and so on), the opportunities for settled crop production are rare.

Outside these zones of concentrated water resources and agriculturally productive soils, the most common and valuable resources (aside from the odd mineral deposit) are the perennial and annual grass and shrub communities characteristic of arid lands.

From a human perspective, the difficulty with these grasses and shrubs is that humankind cannot consume them directly. Grass and leaves must pass through an intermediate converter in order to be usable. The common solution to this difficulty is to keep domesticated animals -goats, sheep, cattle, camels, horses -as a device by which to transform the vegetation into products that can be digested or used by humans. However, the grazing resources outside the agricultural zone but within reasonable distance of its water resources are too dispersed to support as many animals as people would like to have in order to meet their demand for meat, milk, horn, hides, and tractor and transport power.

Moreover, in the limited zones that have good water supplies, land is too valuable for crop production to be devoted to growing fodder. In order to meet the demand for animal products and to exploit the surrounding rangeland districts, it is impossible to remain stationary near the high productivity zones. It is necessary to move the animals to more distant grazing, bringing them back to the population centers for sale or for supplemental fodder resources only for part of the year.

A mobile livelihood system and lifestyle are required. This mobile livelihood system traditionally also is less exposed to drought problems, because one can always walk animals to greener pastures when crops wither, and to political insecurity, because animals can be hidden in distant places more easily than can crops.

From the perspective of the pastoralist, the problem with exploiting these resources is threefold: (1) vegetation dispersion, (2) seasonal water availability, and (3) dry season survival.

First, dryland grass and shrub resources are very widely dispersed. Permanent vegetation is found only in sites with sufficient water, usually along the floodplains of rivers, in sites where surface run -off collects, or where groundwater exists close to the surface. These high -potential water sites are few and very scattered. Rainfall, the engine of life, seldom falls in the same district in comparable amounts two years in a row. Thus, annual grasses infrequently are available in the same place in successive years in comparable quantity and quality, and many years may elapse before herders are able to return to graze in a particular area. This disjunct spatial distribution, when combined with the low productivity and density of much of the forage vegetation, also means that direct harvest is not worth the expenditure of the substantial human labor investment and energy subsidy that would be necessary to collect, bail, and transport the forage to a settlement center. It is much easier to bring animals to the resource than it is to collect the forage and bring it to the animals.

Second, most of the water resources that make it possible to exploit existing grazing resources are available only seasonally. Permanent water resources in the form of springs or wells are rare, and much of the dispersed forage is exploitable only during the rainy season, when surface run -off collects in sufficient quantity in depressions to support flocks and herders. Because drylands are pulsating environments, it is necessary for animal herders to adopt practices that fit the natural pulsating rhythm of the habitat. This has best been done by matching the pulsating bursts of vegetative productivity with correconditions are more benign. These movements generally follow fixed routes and involve a regular annual oscillation between the two main pasture zones.

A second major type of nomadic pastoralism occurs in regions with limited topographic variation. Here, movement is predicated upon leaving dry season pasture and water sites in order to visit distant zones where precipitation has occurred and where grass and water can be found (Fig. 2).

Unlike vertical nomadism, horizontal nomadism seldom involves returning to the same wet -season pastures each year. The sponding pulses of human use. A mobile, nomadic system is much more flexible and involves livelihood system characteristically has been the result.

Third, using the dispersed, low productivity, wet -season grazing resources of arid lands is visiting whatever area within the tribal territory might have received rain in a given year. If no rain falls, political linkages to predicated upon being able to find adequate grass and water for the dry portion of neighboring tribal communities usually enable herders to gain temporary access to the

the year. This in many

cases mandates a working resources needed to agreement between the herder and neighboring farmers whereby dry season resources are shared to

Figure 1. Vertical nomadism: at an elevation of 1850 meters, sheep graze at a seasonal summer pool and pasture on the Plateau of Timandite, Middle

Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

the benefit of both communities. As a consequence, overlapping ecologies that involve use of the same space in different survive.

In both types of pastoral nomadism there are critical zones that must be preserved at all costs if the herding community is to be successful. For the practitioners of horizontal nomadism, intensities at different times of the year have been the rule.

This shared use of resources is inherently vulnerable to changes in technology and society that favor one group over the other. But for much of human history an (at times uneasy) balance has existed between farmer and herder to the mutual benefit of each community.


Traditional pastoral systems are well adapted to the low productivity, spatially dispersed, pulsating forage resources of arid lands. Nomadic herders employ an extensive system of rotational grazing that involves movement between dry season and wet -season pastures. These movements are always minimum fodder these critical zones are the dry season pastures and well sites that constitute only a small fraction of the total territory in which the group operates annually. Denial of access to these zones constitutes a severe threat to group survival. Vertical nomads depend in similar fashion upon the summer mountain pastures for survival. Were they unable to migrate to the highlands, they would find little water or pasture to sustain their flocks in the dry season in the lowland. The ability to move, and the development of tents and other elements of material culture that are adapted to mobility, is the fundamental basis of traditional pastoralism.

Under conditions of low population density, traditional pastoral nomadism represents a form of extensive rotational grazing that is ecologically sound. Traditional pastoralists based on an astute understanding of the potential and the problems of the local ecological system. All movements can be grouped into one of two basic types (Johnson 1969; Ingold

1987: 179-95): (1) vertical and (2) horizontal.

In the first type are found nomadic pastoralists who exploit altitudinal variation in the existence of grazing resources (Fig. 1). These herders spend the hotter, drier portion of the year in high mountain pastures where they know from experience that they can expect to find adequate pasture and water. During the cooler season, when upland conditions are too severe for herd survival, flocks are moved to lowland pastures, where temperature and moisture increase their herds during a sequence of better than average years, and anticipate that losses in the inevitable drier years will still leave them with sufficient animals to remain mobile and to sustain themselves. Thus, by moving in a pattern of rotational grazing and by accepting that their herds will experience considerable fluctuation in size over time in response to grazing conditions, traditional pastoral nomads have developed a successful long -term adaptation to the pulsating and variable conditions of arid environments.

No credible evidence exists to suggest that under traditional conditions pastoral nomads caused extensive degradation in their environments (McCabe 1990). Prejudice



A a






444 414.


t t

4-4,1,---' 4-




=444:,,,, ' x


- '



Figure 2. Horizonatal nomadism: Kababish at a rahad (seasona,1 pool) near Tinna, Northern Kordofan, Sudan.



against nomads, however, is another story, and nomadic pastoralists frequently have been regarded by sedentary cultures as threats to the survival of forests, farms, and settled life (Hjort 1990; Wikjman and Timberlake 1985). In reality, traditional pastoral nomads primarily had four impacts on their environment, all of which were limited in spatial extent, generally positive in character, or self -regulatory in nature.

The first of these impacts was linked to potentially harmful animal concentrations and the risk of overgrazing, particularly in the vicinity of dry- season water sites. Security concerns also limit the areas in which herders can graze

(O'Leary 1984). Inevitably, concentrations of nomadic animals would place pressure upon the vegetation in these sites. In some instances, limited overgrazing was unavoidable.

However, the number of herders who could use a given well was limited by the amount of water produced at that site.

Since before the advent of modern well drilling technology wells had to be dug by hand, the amount of water that could be generated was limited to what could be extracted from near -surface groundwater. Shallow, hand -dug wells simply could not produce enough water to sustain too many animals

(Fig. 3). Since large concentrations of animals could not be supported on a local scale, severe damage to grazing resources was an occasional and spatially limited phenomenon. In addition, social controls and practices also existed to reduce the overconcentration of herders and animals around a shallow well site. The use of wells was strictly limited to and controlled by the local grazing community, whose leaders did not hesitate to employ force if necessary to deny access to unauthorized users (Bernus 1990; Peters 1968).

Herders themselves followed other practices that reduced stress on their critical zones. Whenever an individual herder acquired too many animals through herd growth, excess animals were placed with relatives, fellow tribesmen, or

"stock friends" who resided in other locations. This operated to reduce large concentrations of animals on the local scale.

In order to reduce the risk of catastrophic herd losses in droughts -that is, losses that might threaten the survival of the herder as well as the herd -nomads kept mixed species herds. Because these animals had preferences for different types of vegetation and had differing water requirements, they could be kept at different distances from the well site in the dry season. Grazing pressure was thus spread more evenly and was diffused over a larger array of fodder species. Keeping herd size within the numbers that could be sustained in the critical constraining season was accomplished by sales of stock to traditional markets in the region; among horizontal nomads, this often occurred at the beginning of the dry season when herds were located closer to urban centers and the nomads were in closer contact with merchant middlemen. What's more, movement away from critical zones in order to exploit more distant pastures seasonally lightened pressure on critical grazing resources and preserved them for the driest part of the year. Both in logic and in practice, there is every reason to believe that traditional pastoral nomads avoided significant overgrazing, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

Second, in areas where woody vegetation existed, under drought conditions in particular, herders would cut branches from the trees at heights that were beyond the reach of their beasts, in order to provide the herd with fodder. Cutting of browse for fodder was a normal practice at certain points in the annual cycle when other fodder sources were in short supply, especially at the end of the dry period. If carried to excess, this could have a serious impact upon the survival of the trees being clipped. In most settings where cutting trees for browse was a common practice, however, the limits beyond which harm was inflicted on the tree were well understood (Hobbs 1989). These limits seldom were exceeded and local guardians of the trees existed to see to it that restraint was practiced.

Third, the animals that nomads keep have definite preferences for particular plants. While this might suggest the danger of selective overgrazing that favors plants with unpalatable leaves, thorns, or harmful exudes (Simmons

1989: 146), selective pressure on the vegetation works in a positive direction so long as animal numbers and densities remain modest. Often the seeds of the preferred plants are passed through the intestinal tract of the animals without being destroyed. Indeed, the seed frequently is excreted neatly packaged in a nutrient -rich wrapper that enhances the chances for successful germination. In this fashion, livestock often improve the quality of local grazing over time by distributing the seeds of preferred species more widely and by concentrating these same seeds adjacent to the most frequented trails and water holes. In fact, some plants, such as the argan tree of southern Morocco, are not able to regenerate successfully without first having passed through an animal's intestines. For the argan, whose leaves are a major source of fodder for the local goat, this symbiotic relationship is so strongly developed that germination without first transiting the goat's interior is infrequent (Morton and Voss

1987). As long as grazing pressure did not become too great, a situation that fluctuation in grazing conditions on an

- interannual basis mitigated against by periodically reducing herd size, plants and animals tended to develop along parallel and mutually beneficial paths.

Fourth, pastoral nomads often have employed fire as an important tool in managing their environment. The primary reason for burning was to promote the growth of fresh green plant material at the end of the dry season (Ruddle and

Manshard 1981: 123). Fire had many benefits beyond removing dead cellulose material, preparing the way for new growth, and recycling a pulse of nutrients from the ash of the burnt plants to the soil (Warren and Maizels 1977). Burning, when intense, destroyed trees that lacked a thick bark to protect them from heat. This favored the growth of some trees at the expense of others and at the same time promoted the expansion of grass- dominated habitat at the expense of woody plants. In tsetse -fly -infested areas this removed the moist, shady habitat that was conducive to the breeding cycle of the fly (Linear 1985; Carr 1977). Fewer flies reduced the frequency with which sleeping sickness was conveyed by flybite to humans and their livestock. Over time, under the impact of moderate burning, the extent of grassland in-


30 creased at the expense of trees. From the standpoint of communities for whom forest products are important, this is a bad development. From the perspective of the pastoral nomad, more grass meant more nourishment for domesticated stock, more food for people, and therefore more nomads. For the nomad, this slow, imperceptible, micro -scale change in environment was hardly a bad development.

Moreover, while pastoralists do burn grassland vegetation, much of the pressure of burning in semiarid environments linked to the efforts of farmers to clear land for agricultural purposes, an activity that is hardly the responsibility of herders, but one for which they often are blamed.

Under traditional conditions, nois

Loss of critical resources is the paramount factor that has unbalanced traditional pastoralism (Bencherifa and Johnson

1991). This has occurred in two ways. By far the most serious has been the expansion of agriculture at the expense of pastoral zones. Not only has rainfed farming -both subsistence peasant farming and commercial machine -dominated cereal cropping- expanded into rangeland, but also river floodplains have been converted increasingly to year -round irrigated agriculture. Peasant farmers convert the best available rangeland into crop production. The loss of this land is made doubly severe because the use of modern groundwater extraction technology enables these madic pastoralists practiced a rotational grazing system that made good sense.

Changes that they promoted were not damaging to the environment and encouraged conditions that were generally conducive to the well -being of the pastoral community. These conditions hardly constituted a comfortable, easy, farmers to keep more animals than traditionally was possible. The presence of animals kept all year by settled folk in the same place initiates a process of vegetation degradation that makes it extremely difficult for pastoralists to find adequate grazing near critical dry season water sites. Often these secure life; harsh, variable, physically demanding environmental conditions made pastoral nomadism a livelihood system and a lifestyle characterized by risk and austerity. But so long as the basic parameters were not challenged, pastoral nomadism represented a well adapted cultural ecological system. The settlements, initiated by kinship and ethnic communities that are different from those of the pastoralists, spring up around water sites that, technically, are intended to benefit the herder.

Conversion of river floodplains from single to multiple crop irrigaforces unleashed by the last century of political and economic developments have threatened the survival of traditional pastoral nomads and their environment.



Figure 3.

While the traditional pastoral nomadic structure sketched above was a tough and demanding way to make a living, it had of salient advantage: it worked successfully without significant environmental disruption. It was able to do so because pastoral nomadism was in rough balance with the ecological rhythm of its dryland environment. This crude but tion through the development of large dams deprives the nomad of critical dry- season grazing resources that once were available (Welcomme

1979). The reason for the conversion

Drawing water from a shallow well using a camel walk -away system at Mazrub,

Northern Kordofan, Sudan.

is legitimate in the sense that the yields produced from the newly irrigated fields will make a vital contribution to the food supply of the nation's growing population. It is not that the amount of land lost usually is a huge part of the pastoralist's total territory; in most cases, the amount of land lost is small and the nomad never claimed exclusive use of that land in any case. But the loss of access to this land is critical to the herder's survival, since it is these lands that made it possible to maintain sufficiently large effective adjustment has been disrupted almost universally during the last century. Today, it is difficult to find a pastoral zone that does not have serious land degradation problems.

There are many factors that have caused this alteration in herds during the most difficult time of the year so that it was possible to exploit seasonal pulses in the larger region during the most productive periods of the year. Farmers also suffer losses from this breach of traditional relationships, for the the equilibrium of traditional pastoral nomadic regions. The most important factors, which in combination affect a large absence of migratory herds grazing post- harvest stubble means a decrease in organic fertilizer (manure) being number of pastoral areas, are the loss of access to critical resources, the failure of `.`modern" governments to accept pastoral nomadism any longer as a valuable dryland resource returned to the soil. For the farmer, this rupture of the dung stubble loop can be replaced by the purchase of inorganic fertilizers, although the long -term economic and environuse system, the impact of technology introduced inappropriately into the pastoral system, and the loss of status and power experienced by nomads as colonial governments gave way to independent states.

mental implications of this practice remain to be seen.

Because it often is easy or convenient for national governments to ignore common property rights to seasonal use of resources based on overlapping ecologies, the nomadic

pastoralist is forced to concentrate herds elsewhere. The result inevitably is overgrazing on the former dry season pasture because the pastoralist community must retain substantial herds on the least productive pastures throughout the year (Falloux and Kukendi 1987). The situation often is made even worse in the remaining rangeland because pastoralists, in order to establish title to some land and to save something from the wreck of their traditional resource system, begin to cultivate whatever portions of their traditional rainy season pastures seem to offer the prospect of a crop, however risk -prone these scraps of more productive land might be. In most instances where overgrazing and land degradation occur in pastoral areas, the degradation can be traced to causal forces initiated outside the pastoral area. In these circumstances, pastoralists are the victims, not the villains, of the rangeland, either as pasture or as cropland. The free -for -all that developed was a perverse tragedy of the commons, one that developed when one system of control collapsed and no replacement structures were erected.

Equally damaging in the long run was the tendency of many governments in dryland states to regard their pastoral nomads as a regressive social formation, bypassed by history, whose continued existence was a blot on national honor.






How could one educate such people if they were continually and unpredictably moving around? How were health services to be provided if nomads were always distant from clinics? Did not such folk attempt to avoid paying taxes by their frequent shifts in location? Was not their loyalty to nation and party suspect if they crossed frontiers and shirked military service? This total lack of empathy for and degradational changes. The rangelands of most dryland countries are made the sacrifice zones for economic growth in other districts. Costs not counted in the development projects favored in the agricultural sector are exported to the communities and environments assigned to the pastoral sector.

Critical resources have been lost for pastoral nomadic exploitation because the power relation-





SIGNS OF STRESS HAS APPEARED understanding of pastoral nomads on the part of most governments and the bureaucrats who served them made it almost a moral imperative that nomads be converted into solid citizens engaged in some other line of work. The land used by pastoralists was reassigned to farmers, who, presumably, ship between herders and central governments has changed dramatically. Nomads no longer possess the military potential successfully to challenge governments armed with modern mili-



would use the land more productively, or was reorganized in cooperative ranching schemes based on western or socialist models. Crossing political boundaries became difficult, internal migration was discouraged, and sedentarization was encouraged and, in some tary technology. It follows, therefore, that nomads do not have the ability to control their own resources. Most central governments do not recognize the communal property rights upon which pastoralism is based (Ruddle and Manshard 1981).

The land used by nomads is considered the property of the state, to be managed in the best interests of the nation. The traditional tribal authorities, whose local authority was essential to effective resource management, now are outside cases, enforced (Arkell 1991;

Bascom 1990; Beck 1981; Dahl 1991). In all instances, remaining nomadic required a great deal of commitment and considerable capital in order to purchase access to pasture and water. Many nomads, especially those with small herds, who found it difficult to remain both mobile and economically viable or who were attracted to culturally acceptable jobs in the military or in transportation, drifted out of pastoral nomadism on their own initiative. Most of these formerly mobile herders retained some of their animals when the "power loop" in most dryland countries. These tribal leaders often were considered bastions of "reactionary" thought and behavior whose influence had to be removed as quickly as possible. The problem was that few governments were able to replace the traditional system of environmental management with a new system of their own organized on modem principles of ecology and management (Bedrani

1991). The result was a void into which rushed any individual with sufficient backing to have a chance at exploiting they settled.

The result of sedentarization was the concentration of both people and domestic animals in and around the most favorable sites where water could be found. These concentrations produced pressures on local land, water, and vegetation resources that in many places could not be sustained

(Bedrani 1983; al- Ibrahim 1991; Janzen 1983). In many


32 pastoral areas, the introduction of deep -bore wells served as a magnet for new settlement nodes. There is an irony in this variant on the theme of excessively concentrated use: these water development projects originally were intended to disperse pastoral populations by overcoming the water scarcity constraint that limited the use of seasonal pastures.

Governments simply proved powerless to arrest the process of settlement around any site that offered secure water supplies.

Although heavy use had been a characteristic of traditional nomadic exploitation of crucial dry -season resources, this pressure seldom had resulted in degradation. Under the new circumstances, a series of undesirable signs of stress appeared in the zones around pastoral settlements (Olsson and Rapp 1991). A shift from perennial to annual grasses was matched by a steady decline in the abundance and quality of woody vegetation as demands for wood fuel increased.

Eventually, concentrations of unpalatable species appeared and in heavily overused areas began to dominate the local landscape. With less vegetation available to protect soil resources, soil crusting, rapid run -off, rilling, and soil erosion by wind and water became increasingly typical of pastoral environments, especially in the vicinity of settlement nuclei.



The disruption of traditional pastoral livelihood systems and the land degradation that almost invariably has followed from these changes makes it difficult to promote sustainable development in Old World arid lands. Most development initiatives in the arid lands of the developing world are efforts to introduce alien models of animal husbandry in place of the indigenous systems. These efforts have been singularly unsuccessful and the landscape is littered with misguided, failed projects whose point of departure was separated by a gaping gulf from the aspirations and knowledge systems of the local pastoral population (Goldschmidt


Sustainable development in traditional pastoral districts is possible, but it is essential to focus on six vital principles if such efforts are to be successful. In each instance, the perspective must be one that is responsive to the genius loci, the spirit of a place, and must produce programs for development that are rooted in a sensitive understanding of the local cultural and physical milieu.

Of particular importance is the need to view the problems of traditional pastoral areas in arid lands from a holistic perspective. This does not mean simply trying to grasp the main actors in the pastoral sector. It means comprehending how the pastoral sector is linked into a larger regional and structural framework. Most, but not all, of the problems of pastoral environments have their origin in a reductionist approach to planning that separates animal husbandry, both traditional and modern, from the agricultural, industrial, and urban sectors. Too often the individual demands of these sectors for resources results in competition that is initially detrimental to one and ultimately bad for all. For example, favoring irrigation over pastoral needs can produce overgrazing in the pastoral sector, which encourages soil erosion and leads to an increase in sedimentation in reservoirs and irrigation canals. This type of feedback imposes unanticipated extra costs upon the irrigation system and can undermine its economic viability. While governments remain interested in inexpensive animal products for (urban) consumers, substantial investment in the pastoral sector seldom is a high priority. With the bulk of new initiatives directed elsewhere, the animal husbandry sector often is the stepchild of development funds. Worse yet, the policies and projects pursued in other sectors, particularly agriculture, have a negative impact on the viability of the pastoral sector.

Unless structural mechanisms exist in national planning to avoid this problem, land degradation problems will continue in pastoral zones.

Building on traditional pastoral institutions is essential if sustainable development is to be advanced in arid lands. The traditional system of unrestrained pastoral nomadism is not practical in contemporary drylands. Too many changes have altered the way pastoral nomads exist and relate to their surrounding environment for a return to traditional conditions to be a practical solution. Moreover, too few individuals are interested in practicing the traditional pastoral regime to make it a reasonable way in which to manage resources.

However, nomads did have sensible ideas about environmental management (Hobbs 1989). They understood the need to balance stock numbers with the condition of the range resource, and they built institutions to manage their resources. These traditional institutions and attitudes toward environment are valuable because they can be built on directly. There is no need to introduce modern concepts when local equivalents already exist. Rather, non -local elements, both technological and managerial, might best be used as supplements to, instead of replacements for, indigenous practices. In Syria, a cooperative movement authorized and supported by the government has developed based on local tribal groups and traditional concepts of the hima reserve system (Shoup 1990). These concepts strengthen ancient practices based on the imposition of limits in the use of range resources by individual, group, and season (Draz

1990). While resurrecting such practices is not without its difficulties, adapting traditional mechanisms of land management to modern conditions is a fruitful path to follow. While it may not yield the (usually short -lived and unsustainable) quantum leaps in productivity that development agencies hope to attain by introducing novel production systems from other places, such indigenous efforts are firmly rooted in local practice and are promising ways to promote development that is meaningful and comprehensible in local pastoral terms. Because these efforts are closely linked to local concepts and resource use systems, they are likely to be both environmentally and socially sustainable.

If arid land management is viewed holistically and if indigenous practices are the basis for sustainable development, then the third of our six essential principles is to protect zones that are crucial to the success of the local pastoral system. These critical zones are the pasture and water resources that permit pastoral herds to survive the

worst conditions during the annual seasonal cycle. Without assurance that these vital resources are available, pastoralists have little alternative but to abuse rangelands in the interest of short-term survival. Failure to protect critical dry-season zones threatens the nomadic pastoral rationale. It is equally important under current economic conditions to provide adequate stored fodder reserves in order not only to protect against seasonal deficiencies but more importantly to insure against the adverse impacts of drought. Without such reserves, excessive pressure on rangeland quality is almost inevitable. Lack of drought protection also results in a drastic decrease in the number of herd animals available for the market for at least as long as it takes to rebuild the size of the herd. While such dramatic decreases in herd size provided a rough balancing mechanism between fodder availability and herd size, this oscillation between boom and bust conditions is not desirable from the perspective of contemporary market needs. Selective investment in drought fodder protection not only is a pre-

requisite to eliminating wild

swings in the number of animals available for the market, but also to prevent overuse of permanent vegetation during stressful periods and to insure that herds are not returned to graze before the range resource has had a chance to recover.

Maintaining pastoral mobility is a fourth principle. This is necessary if arid land range resources are not to be overexploited. This is another way of saying that in dispersed, low-productivity rangelands, it is important to avoid excessive concentrations of livestock. This was accomplished under the traditional pastoral nomadic system by regular seasonal patterns of movement. While the traditional system of rotational grazing is unlikely to reemerge in the same form, it is important to keep herds and herders mobile. This can best be done by encouraging mobility around a basing station and by adjusting social services as much as possible to the needs of mobility. Thus, schools for nomads might best be open during the period when they are at dry-season base camps, rather than insisting that all students attend school on a rigid national schedule. Similarly, mobile herders can be linked via radio to their base camps, in this way making it possible for essential services such as health care to be brought to the herder at need rather than expecting the herder always to be located within easy walking distance of the social service. The simple result of discouraging mobility is to concentrate too many herders and their animals in too small an area for sustainable use of available resources.

It follows that retention of flexibility in the pastoral system to the greatest degree possible is equally crucial. In traditional pastoral nomadism this was accomplished in two ways. Tribal territories were large enough so that nomads did not have to graze during the rainy season in exactly the same area every year. Instead, herders had the flexibility to adjust their grazing to fit what the environment offered. Nomads also were flexible in their ability to use the territory of adjoining tribes whose rangeland had received more rainfall in a given year. A set of rules and relationships, often solidified by marriage ties, governed the exercise of these temporary grazing opportunities. Rigid boundaries of property and tenure are inimical to this type of flexibility.

Because drylands are too variable to produce adequate moisture everywhere on an interannual basis, access to available pasture when and where it occurs is essential.

Either exploitation territories must be very large so that a pastoral group can be reasonably sure that some part of the territory will have adequate forage, or there must be a variable range of use rights that allows herders to gain reasonable shared access to needed resources. Traditional nomadic pastoralists understood this necessity and provided for it.

Contemporary state structures seldom possess the sophistication and flexibility required to avoid creating pastoral management areas that are too small and too exclusive to meet the needs of pastoralists in a pulsating and variable environment.

Keeping common property resource systems healthy is the sixth principle of sustainable arid land rangeland management. Many of the degradational impulses in the world's drylands stem from efforts to privatize rangeland resources in the interests of presumably better management.

These efforts seldom succeed, and most commonly they export environmental costs to adjoining areas and populations that cannot cope with them. Land degradation is the result. Communal management of commonly held property is not an easy venture, but pastoral communities have a long tradition of doing this with reasonable equity and success

(Gilles, Hammoudi, and Mahdi 1986). These systems work because they have a built-in system for conflict resolution and by which to apply sanctions. Local authority, when it is established and effective, is difficult to replace with a substitute system. Where local communal institutions work or have the potential to work, they should be strengthened because designing an alternative that will gain the acceptance and cooperation of the local community is difficult.



Most assessments of the world's drylands indicate that they are experiencing more degradation than is compatible with sustainable development. Traditional pastoral nomads used such areas on a sustained basis for millennia. Under the pressure of modern development and global population growth, pastoral nomads and the areas that sustained them have experienced a sharp decline. This erosion of productivity in the world's drylands is not inevitable, and steps toward rectifying the situation could be taken if the fundamental principles employed by pastoral nomads were reapplied to

Elrangelands in novel and creative ways.


Arkell, T. 1991. The decline of pastoral nomadism in the western Sahara. Geography 76(2): 162 -66.

Bascom, J. B. 1990. Border pastoralism in eastern Sudan.

Geographical Review 80(4): 416 -30.

Beck, L. 1981. Government policy and pastoral land use in southwest Iran. Journal of Arid Environments 4: 253 -67.

Bedrani, S. 1983. Going slow with pastoral cooperatives.

Ceres 16(4): 16 -21.


1991. Legislation for livestock on public lands in

Algeria. Nature and Resources 27(4): 24 -30.

Bencherifa, A., and D. L. Johnson. 1991. Changing resource management strategies and their environmental impacts in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Mountain

Research and Development 11(3): 183 -94.

Bernus, E. 1990. Dates, dromedaries, and drought: diversification in Tuareg pastoral systems. In J. G. Galaty and D.

L. Johnson (eds.). The world of pastoralism. New York:

Guilford. Pages 149 -76.

Carr, C. J. 1977. Pastoralism in crisis: the Dasanetch and their Ethiopian lands. The University of Chicago

Department of Geography Research Paper 180.

Dahl, G. 1991. The Beja of Sudan. Ambio 20(5): 189 -91.

Draz, O. 1990. The hema system in the Arabian peninsula.

In The improvement of tropical and subtropical rangelands.

Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Pages 321-


Falloux, F., and A. Mukendi (eds.). 1987. Desertification control and renewable resource management in the

Sahelian and Sudanian zones of West Africa. World

Bank Technical Paper 70.

Galaty, J. G., and D. L. Johnson (eds.). 1990. The world of pastoralism. New York: Guilford.

Gilles, J.L., A. Hammoudi, and M. Mahdi. 1986.

Oukaimedene, Morocco: a high mountain agdal. In

Proceedings of the conference on common property resource management. Washington, D.C.: National Academy

Press. Pages 281 -304.

Goldschmidt, W. 1981. The failure of pastoral economic development programs in Africa. In J.G. Galaty, D.

Aronson, and P. C. Salzman (eds.). The future of pastoral peoples. Ottawa: International Development Research

Centre (IDRC).

Hjort of Ornas, A. 1990. Pastoral and environmental security in East Africa. Disasters 14(2): 115 -22.

Hobbs, J.J. 1989. Bedouin life in the Egyptian wilderness.

Austin: University of Texas Press.

al- Ibrahim, A. 1991. Excessive use of groundwater resources in Saudi Arabia: impacts and policy options. Ambio

20(1): 34-37.

Ingold, T. 1987. The appropriation of nature: essays on human ecology and social relations. Iowa City: University of Iowa


Janzen, J. 1983. The modern development of nomadic living space in southeast Arabia: the case of Dhofar (Sultanate of Oman). Geoforum 14(3): 289 -309.

Johnson, D. L. 1969. The nature of nomadism: a comparative study of pastoral migrations in Southwestern Asia and Northern Africa. The University of Chicago

Department of Geography Research Paper 118.

Linear, M. 1985. The tsetse war. The Ecologist 15(1/2): 27-


McCabe, J. T. 1990. Turkana pastoralism: a case against the tragedy of the commons. Human Ecology 18(1): 81 -103.

Morton, J. F. and G. L. Voss. 1987. The argan tree (Argania sideroxylon, Sapotaceae), a desert source of edible oil.

Economic Botany 41(2): 221 -33.

O'Leary, M. 1984. Ecological villains or economic victims: the case of the Rendile of northern Kenya. Desertification Control Bulletin 11(December): 17 -21.

Olsson, K., and A. Rapp. 1991. Dryland degradation and conservation for survival. Ambio 20(5): 192 -95.

Peters, E. L. 1968. The tied and the free: an account of a type of patron- client relationship among the Bedouin pastoralists of Cyrenaica. In J. -G. Peristiany (ed.).

Contributions to Mediterranean sociology: Mediterranean rural communities and social change. Paris and The Hague:

Mouton. Pages 167 -88.

Ruddle, K., and W. Manshard. 1981. Renewable natural resources and the environment: pressing problems in the developing world. Dublin: United Nations University by

Tycooly International Publishing.

Shoup, J. 1990. Middle Eastern sheep pastoralism and the hima system. In J. G. Galaty and D. L. Johnson (eds.).

The world of pastoralism. New York: Guilford. Pages 195-


Simmons, I. G. 1989. Changing the face of the Earth: culture, environment, history. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Warren, A., and J. K. Maizels. 1977. Ecological change and desertification. In Desertification: its causes and consequences. New York: Pergamon. Pages 169 -260.

Wikjman, A., and L. Timberlake. 1985. Is the African drought an act of God or of man? The Ecologist 15(1/2):

9 -18.

Welcomme, R. L. 1979. The fisheries ecology of floodplain rivers. London: Longman.

Douglas Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of

Geography at Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester MA

01610 USA.





Peter K. Van de

Water, a graduate student in the Department of

Geosciences at The

University of Arizona, is the 1992 William G.

McGinnies Scholar In

Arid Lands Studies.

The $1,000 scholarship, named for the founder and Director

Emeritus of the Office of

Arid Lands Studies, was established in 1985 to encourage and support outstanding graduate students whose research interests follow in the tradition of the Carnegie Desert Botanical Laboratory.

Van de Water earned the Bachelor of Science in geology and the Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Washington

State University, Pullman, in 1987. Since beginning his graduate studies at The University of Arizona, he has participated in research at the university's Desert Laboratory and Laboratory of Tree Ring Research.

His primary area of interest is ecophysiological adaptation to changing atmospheric gas conditions, an interest triggered by Ian Woodward's finding of a 40- percent reduction in leaf stomatal density (stoma per leaf area) since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. That period also saw an increase of 60 parts per million (ppm) in ambient atmospheric CO2.

Woodward concluded that reduced stomatal densities imply (1) a reduction in stomatal conductance and (2) higher water use efficiency (WUE) defined as uptake of CO2 divided by loss of H2O, all of which suggests that plants are adapting to changing atmospheric conditions.

Van de Water is pursuing his research with macrofossils from packrat (Neotoma sp.) middens preserved in the arid climate of the American Southwest.

"More than a thousand packrat midden strata and their associated macrofossil collections, radiocarbon dated to the...

last 40,000 years, are available from researchers intimately connected with the Desert Laboratory," Van de Water reports. "This resource base is unique in the world and lends itself to understanding how atmospheric CO2 shifts have affected vegetation in the present North American deserts as changing climatic patterns forced new plant associations and localized extinctions...


"Understanding individual and community responses to past global events will provide a measure to judge future anthropogenic impacts on the environment."


Sustainable Practices for Plant Disease Management in

Traditional Farming Systems. 1991. By H. David Thurston.

300 pages. Westview Press, 5500 Central Ave., Boulder, CO

80301 -2847 USA. US$45.

Thurston, a professor of international agriculture and plant pathology at Cornell University, argues for the premise that 10,000 years of experience and knowledge embodied in traditional agriculture and local cultures can be combined with modern agricultural science to develop sustainable, environmentally sound, useful agricultural practices. In advancing his idea, he draws on a survey of indigenous farming systems worldwide and suggests ways in which what he has learned can be applied.

Policies for Maximizing Nature Tourism's Ecological and Economic Benefits. 1991. By Kreg Lindberg. 30 pages.

WRI (World Resources Institute) Publications, P.O. Box

4852 Hampden Station, Baltimore, MD 21211 USA.

US$12.50 (large format paperback).

Lindberg, an ecotourism specialist with Conservation

International in Indonesia , reviews recent trends in the

US$30-billion-a-year international nature tourism industry and analyzes a variety of approaches to maintaining and increasing ecotourism's diverse contributions, based on specific examples from around the world. Better economic management of nature tourism, the author argues, can promote both development and conservation without degrading the natural resources upon which development depends.

Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Life of the Soil

1991. By Daniel Hillel. The Free Press, 866 Third Ave., New

York, NY 10022 USA. US$22.50.

Soil and water, Hillel observes, have been the basis of every civilization since the dawn of agriculture. The ways in which humans have treated these fundamental resources have varied considerably, however. After tracing the historical connection between soil and civilization, beginning with the advent of organized farming in ancient

Mesopotamia, the author turns to analysis of current global problems, many of them 'caused by human agency: saline seeps in Australia and North America, desertification in

Africa, the Americas, and Asia, shrinking wetlands' and pollution and depletion of the aquifer in many regions, and widespread chemical abuse of both soil and water. Hillel concludes that we, as a species, must adopt a fundamental change in our attitudes toward the soil if we are to achieve the goal of sustainability.



Sustainable Agriculture for California: A Guide to

Information. 1991. 198 pages. By Steve Mitchell and David

Bainbridge. ANR (Agriculture and Natural Resources)

Publications, University of California, 6701 Pablo Ave.,

Oakland, CA 94608 -1239 USA. US$12.

The authors' topics in this guide are the economic viability of farming in a region where water is scarce (a natural condition aggravated by six straight years of below average rainfall) and the effects of farm practices on the natural environment. Specific topics include cover crops, agroforestry, range management, biological and cultural control of weeds and pests, new tillage methods, and more.

The guide is designed to improve access to information on sustainable agriculture by referring readers to appropriate and, in some cases, little known libraries, organizations, books, journals, indexes, and electronic databases.

pages. Chapman and Hall, an imprint of Routledge,

Chapman & Hall Inc., 29 W. 35th St., New York, NY 10001


"Nature conservation," states John Harper in his foreword to this volume, "has changed from an idealistic philosophy to a serious technology" underpinned by the science of ecology.

In sections devoted to the natural order, processes and patterns of change, population biology and genetics, and the practice of conservation, preservation, and management, the editors marshal chapters on such interrelated topics as reptilian extinctions, the new biological paradigm, and park protection and public roads. The book concludes with two essays: Laura Jackson's The Role of Ecological Restoration in

Conservation Biology, and G.L. Stebbins' Why Should We

Conserve Species and Wildlands?

Agricultural Sustainability Research at ICARDA. 1991.

For information, contact the publisher: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, P.O. Box 5466,

Aleppo, Syria; or, FAX (963 -21)225105.

Together, North Africa and West Asia today import more food per capita than any other region on Earth, despite an agricultural tradition that extends thousands of years into the past. Farmers in these areas now feel compelled by demand to attempt to force from the soil a level of food production it cannot sustain, a situation that is leading to overgrazing, soil erosion, soil nutrient exhaustion, and depletion of water reserves. In this book, the researchers at ICARDA outline their efforts to develop practical, realistic solutions to these critical problems, solutions that balance short -term and longterm needs.

The Grazing Land Ecosystems of the African Sahel.

1989. By H.N. Le Houérou. 290 pages. Springer -Verlag,

Berlin. US$89.50; DM 168 (hardcover).

This survey of sub -Saharan Africa, where Le Houérou has worked for 20 years, is comprehensive in its scope: climate, geology, natural plant communities, land use patterns, livestock production systems, and the region's primary and secondary productivity are considered, as are the physical, biological, societal, political, and economic forces brought to bear upon the whole. The author's conclusions and arguments are thoroughly documented; the text is well illustrated with useful tables and graphs, extensively referenced, and indexed by both scientific names and subjects. For those concerned with the ecology, agriculture, pastoralism, economics, and politics of arid and semiarid Africa, this book might well be considered the essential reference.

Ethics of Environment and Development: Global

Challenge and International Response. 1990. 264 pages.

Edited by J. Ronald Engel and Joan Gibb Engel. The University of Arizona Press, 1230 N. Park Ave., Suite 102, Tucson,

AZ 85719 -4140 USA. US$29.95 (hardcover); US$14.95


Contributors from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East here address the questions of whether

"the entire model of modern industrial development is seriously awry" and of how -or whether- conservation and development can be reconciled on a global scale. The editors believe that the answer is yes, and that the answer lies in "a new Earth ethic" of sustainable development. And to be sustainable, they argue, is to be equitable: "Environmentalists should be as concerned with protecting the livelihood and security of the poor as they are with protecting the livelihood and security of the penguin."

Conservation Biology: The Theory and Practice of

Nature Conservation, Preservation, and Management.

1992. Edited by Peggy L. Fiedler and Subodh K. Jain. 507


The GreenDisk. The GreenDisk, P.O. Box 32224,

Washington DC 20007 USA. Subscriptions: US$35.00 per year (six issues).

Editors of The GreenDisk describe their product as a

"paperless environmental journal." It is published on computer disk in Macintosh or IBM -compatible formats, and any paper involved in getting the electronic journal to its readers, including disk mailers, is made of 100 percent recycled wastepaper. Each issue offers summaries of recently published books, reports, teaching materials, magazines, and television programs (and how to obtain them); complete newsletters of some organizations; current employment and volunteer opportunities; and unabridged articles and reports from scientists, government agencies, and environmental organizations worldwide. A keyword search program is included with each subscription. Submissions and correspondence from readers are encouraged. If you don't want to contribute to the paper waste stream, contact the editors electronically by way of EcoNet (greendisk); CompuServe

(70760, 2721), or BITNET (greendisk



25th International Symposium on Remote

Sensing and Global Environmental Change:

Tools for Sustainable Development

Graz, Austria

April 4 -8, 1993

Organized by the Consortium for International Earth

Science Information Network (CIESIN), the Environmental

Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM), and Joanneum

Research in cooperation with Grazer Congress.

The symposium's emphasis will be on programs, methods, and international and regional partnerships designed to foster better understanding of the human dimensions of global change.

Papers, which are to appear in a special issue of a remote sensing journal, are solicited on topics including data policy and sources, disaster monitoring and mitigation, early warning systems for food security, integration of remote sensing and GIS, international research programs and plans, and others, as well as case studies of successful interdisciplinary projects.

For more information, contact:

ERIM International Symposium

P.O. Box 134001

Ann Arbor MI 48113 -4001 USA

Telephone: 313-994-1200, ext. 3234

FAX: 313- 994 -5123

Global Warming:

A Call forInternational Coordination

Fourth International Conference on Scientific and Policy Issues Facing All Governments

Chicago, Illinois USA

April 5 -8, 1993

Conference conveners are SUPCON International and

World Resource


Conference oi,,cctives are to report on the impacts of the

UNCED "Earth Summit" held in Rio de Janeiro last year and to provide an international, interdisciplinary forum on policy and scientific issues related to the greenhouse effect and similar transnational environmental problems, including desertification, water shortages, floods, and acid rain.

The conference proceedings will be published by World

Resources Review. For technical questions, contact:

Prof. Thomas B. Cobb

Natural Resource Management Division

SUPCON International

One Heriatge Plaza

Woodridge IL 60517 -0275 USA

Telephone: 419-372-8207

Prof. Othmar Preining

Institute of Experimental Physics

University of Vienna

Studlhofg. 4, A -1090 Wien, Austria

Telephone: 43- 222 -342630, ext. 214

For general conference information, contact:

Global Warming International Center

P.O. Box 5275

Woodridge IL 60517 -0275 USA

Telephone: 708- 910 -1551

FAX: 708 -910 -1561


Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF