Addressing and adapting to climate change, achieving food security, and tackling the biodiversity crisis all hinge on effective land management practices. Discuss.


India with only 2.4% of world’s geographical area and more than 17% of the world population experiences several land management challenges. Around 30% of total geographical area is degraded land.


  • Introduce your answer by highlighting land’s critical role in providing ecological, economic, social, and cultural services, and the challenges posed by current land management practices.
  • In the main body, discuss the issues with current land management practices like sectoral approaches, land degradation, climate vulnerability, biodiversity loss, etc. Next elaborate on the importance of effective land management in addressing climate change, enhancing food security, and tackling the biodiversity crisis through integrated, sustainable practices.
  • Conclude by emphasizing the necessity of holistic land management strategies for sustainable development, climate resilience, and biodiversity conservation, aligning with India’s LDN and NDC targets.


Land is central to all human activities, it provides ecological, economic, social, and cultural services. But this multi-dimensional character of land is often overlooked in land management practices, leading to land degradation and loss of ecosystem services.

Issues with Current Land Management Practices:

  • Sectoral Approaches: In India, land management is often handled in silos, leading to fragmented and sometimes conflicting land use practices.
  • Land Degradation: Over-exploitation, deforestation, and poor agricultural practices have led to severe land degradation, affecting over 30% of India’s total geographical area.
  • Climate Vulnerability: Mismanagement has increased vulnerability to climate change impacts like floods and droughts, affecting millions.
  • Biodiversity Loss: Unsustainable land use changes, such as deforestation for agriculture, have led to significant biodiversity loss.
    • Overuse of chemical fertilizers without considering long-term soil health.
  • Lack of Integrated Landscape Management: The absence of a holistic approach to land management that considers ecological, social, and economic factors together.
    • Inadequate consideration of water conservation in agricultural practices, leading to groundwater depletion.

Effective land management practices harmonize agricultural production, ecosystem conservation, and socio-economic development through holistic, stakeholder-inclusive land use. It optimizes land health and productivity, enhancing biodiversity, agricultural yields, and resilience to climate change.

Addressing and Adapting to Climate Change:

  • Mitigation Benefits: Land is both a source and a sink of carbon dioxide (CO2). Sustainable land management, can capture extra CO2 and store it as carbon in vegetation and soil. Planting trees to restore degraded land helps sequester carbon, reducing greenhouse gas concentrations.
    • The Green India Mission aims to increase forest cover to combat climate change.
  • Adaptation Benefits: Sustainable agricultural practices like zero-tillage, crop rotation, and organic farming reduce emissions and enhance resilience against impacts like rising temperatures and reduced rainfall.
    • The promotion of organic farming in Sikkim.
  • Water Management: Land degradation and land cover change disrupt the water cycle and hydrological functions. Healthy land has a natural capacity to hold, store and filter water and adapt to changing precipitation patterns.

Achieving Food Security:

  • Maintaining Soil Health: is foundational to food security, as it enhances agricultural productivity by improving crop yields. Techniques like crop rotation, cover cropping, and organic farming can rejuvenate soil health.
    • Soil Health Card Scheme aim to assess soil health and optimize agricultural output.
  • Water Conservation Techniques: agricultural is the most sensitive sector to water scarcity and droughts. Implementing rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation ensures water availability for agriculture, improving food security.
    • Water conservation efforts in Rajasthan have significantly boosted agricultural productivity.
  • Crop Diversification: Encouraging the cultivation of a variety of crops enhances resilience to pests and climate variability, securing food supply.
    • The promotion of millets in semi-arid regions of India.

Tackling Biodiversity Crisis:

  • Integration of Biodiversity Conservation into Land Use Planning: enhances habitat connectivity, facilitates species movement, and maintains ecological functions, fostering sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.
    • Incorporation of biodiversity corridors and green infrastructure into urban and rural land use plans in India.
  • Habitat Restoration: Restoring degraded lands to their natural state can significantly enhance biodiversity.
    • The Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, India, showcases successful habitat restoration efforts, leading to an increase in the tiger population and improved ecosystem health.
  • Agroforestry Practices: Integrating trees into agricultural lands supports biodiversity by providing habitats and corridors for wildlife.
    • In Karnataka, the adoption of agroforestry practices has not only increased agricultural productivity but also promoted bird, insect, and plant species diversity within farmlands.

Promoting effective land management practices that consider land as a system, balancing ecological, economic, and social objectives is crucial for addressing climate change, ensuring food security, and conserving biodiversity. These practices further contribute to achieving India’s targets for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • Globally, the annual losses of ecosystem services due to land degradation has been estimated at $6 trillion.
  • The IPCC’s report on ‘Climate Change and Land’ (2019) urged countries to assess land management practices and prioritize options that minimize land competition while maximizing co-benefits and preserving ecosystem services.
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