In India, the near absence of integrated land use planning is leading to haphazard development, that is suggestive of an ambiguity about the very intent of land use and management. Following the country’s independence, the trend in changes in land use show that “while the lands under net sown area, forests and non-agricultural uses have increased, the land under “other area” uses have almost halved from 40.7 to 22.6 percent meaning that for future land demands, the forest lands and agricultural lands may have to be used” (Draft national land utilization policy, July 2013-DoLR, MoRD).
The increasing demand of land for housing, infrastructure, mining and industrialization is leading to diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural uses and forest land for non-forest purposes. The stagnation of agricultural yields and degradation of forests have become serious issues. A large section of India’s population is still dependent on land-based activities on both private and common lands for their livelihoods.
In this backdrop, SPWD has been working on land use planning and management for sustainable resource regeneration and improving livelihoods. SPWD undertook a programme on ‘Developing an agro-ecoregion based approach for characterization of wastelands and their potential for enhancing livelihoods of marginalised rural population in the ongoing land-based developmental programmes‘ with support from Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development.
The objectives were:
- To develop approach for characterization of wastelands in different agro-ecoregions that would take into consideration the process of degradation in an area and also the institutional environment pertaining to natural resources management in the area
- To factor-in the characterization developed in the design of the land-based development projects being implemented in the agro-ecoregion(s)
- To develop capacity of civil society institutions for practical application of the approach for field level implementation purposes