More on Everything That’s Incorporated under SLM

SLM stands for Sustainable Land Use Management.  As this blog progresses we’ll no doubt start referring to the concept in its acronymed form (as is typical around the office), but for now we’ll continue to introduce the topic slowly.  In short, SLM is the practice of implementing a system that accounts for and monitors every need that anyone can derive from that land.

Now, in some cases for us that has meant we’ve simply said “No.” No hunting, farming or prospecting is allowed on our protected areas.  Research must be conducted with a permit.  There’s no building or development of the lands.  Our lands are to remain as close to their natural state as we can keep them.

Rotational Slash & Burn Yields Fragmented Landscapes and Ecosystems

Rotational Slash & Burn Yields Fragmented Landscapes and Ecosystems

But there’s always pressure.  For thousands of years that land has been used for other purposes and now we’re stopping what had been a natural cycle of interaction with the natural resources.  On one hand, population growth and increased demand for forest products means the natural cycle of yesteryear is not maintainable. The status quo on that laissez faire system would’ve wiped out countless tracks of natural lands.  But on the other hand, how do you replace the livelihood that was once supported by the now-protected lands?

In this area one of our chief tactics is increasing farm productivity.  Milpa, or slash-and-burn-and-move-on farming methods, clear out wide tracts of land over the years, leaving landscapes and ecosystems fragmented and broken.  So we push permaculture, or sustained agriculture in one area, year to year.  This can be difficult for two major reasons:  First, the soil is not as nutrient rich without the constant cascade of leaf litter and other organic materials.  Second, it stands in contrast to strongly-held Mayan farming culture.

Continuous Ecosystems within Maintained Forests

Continuous Ecosystems within Maintained Forests

Using technology to increase productivity is the easy part.  We emphasize composting and agroforestry to maximize yield per acre.  We push organic production and healthy eating to increase community health.  Land management encourages maintained employmentWater maintenance ensures continuity of that resource.  We also gain funding for research on alternative crops and business models that can provide other livelihood for those who would otherwise degrade land to make money.  There is much more to conservation than patroling the land and punishing those who scar it.

Changing the mindsets of local farmers is the tough part.  Those programs I listed do incite consideration on alternative farming methods, but to prove the point we’ve developed a permanent, organic farm to serve as an expample of how well the system can work.  We also emphasize these principles and conservation among school children.

SLM is about the right practice on the right piece of land.  Conservation here, farming there.  After that it’s all about maximizing the return on both.

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2 Comments »

  1. matt said

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. Peder said

    Thanks for the support!

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