Land Use and Income in Rural Areas

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Land as defined by FAO (1976) is “an area of earth’s surface, the characteristics which embrace all reasonably stable or predictably cyclic attributes of the biosphere vertically above and below this area, including those of the atmosphere, the soil, the underlying geology, the hydrology, the plant and animal population and the results of the past and present human activity, to the extent that these attributes influence on the present and future use of the land.” Land is an essential natural resource, both for the survival and prosperity of humanity, and for the maintenance of all terrestrial ecosystems. It serves many functions such as for production of food, fiber, fuel, or other biotic materials for human use, for provision of biological habitats for plants, animals and microorganisms, for the regulation of the storage and flow of surface water and groundwater, for provision of physical space for settlements, industry and recreation, and many more that are very essential in human life. However, over millennia, people have become progressively more expert in exploiting land resources for their own needs. The natural state of the land tend to change over time as the activities of man on, in, over and under the earth’s surface affects it. These activities of man are termed as land use which is defined by the FAO/UNEP (1999) as the “total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type.” Land cover refers to the observed physical and biological cover of the earth's land, as vegetation or man-made features (FAO, 1997). Uses that are placed by nature, such as vegetative cover, mineral deposits, and wildlife and fisheries, and those introduced by man are both taken in the concept of land use. Land use pertains to broad categories such as forest, agriculture and settlement.

One factor that contributes to the problems in the drivers of sustainability is how human welfare and land use are related to one another and influence prospects for growth without jeopardizing Earth’s life support systems (Coomes et. al., 2011). According to Mandal (1982), there is an intimate relationship between land economics and land use. The efficient use of land depends on the capacity of the man to utilize the land and to manage it. It also depends upon the systems of farming, systems of land tenures and size of land holdings. He stated that man-land relationship can be expressed in three different aspects. First, the land and individual person who uses it; second, the man and his influence on the use of the land as a means of production; and thirdly, the relationship between land and man be expressed in terms of man as a social being and the land as an inexhaustible resource. Land is one of the three major factors of production in classical economics (along with labor and capital) and an essential input for housing and food production. Thus, land use is the major sustaining factor of agricultural economies and it provides substantial economic and social benefits (Wu, 2008). Land use has been one of the key factors that are necessary for improving the income levels of rural communities and making a significant reduction in poverty levels globally. Rural settlements are the oldest human settlements and through history, they have been changing slowly. Their lives and works are mainly dependent on natural resources and environmental conditions. Compared to cities and urban areas, rural communities have smaller population densities. Different communal improvements and utilities, such as sidewalks, water supply, squares and plaza, streetlights and electric powers, and especially sewerage and solid waste management system, etc., were always on a lower development level than in urban areas. Usually, rural areas have residential buildings, but they also host some other economic functions such as sites for animals, food storage, storerooms for machines, tools, etc. This makes dwelling and work closely connected....
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