Land as a Commons (3/5)



Essentially Nikolai Fuchs advocates for a version of the commons which will naturally preserve and protect soil fertility through the invested interest in the land. He argues that this actually comes from renting the land, rather than owning it which leads to it being treated as a tradable commodity and something to exploit. This is a hopeful model with lots of real successful examples, which challenge this idea of the “tragedy of the commons” in which humans are seen to be fundamentally selfish and unable to live in co-operation. In the commons created by GLS Treunhand, a German non-profit, the farmers decided that they would use organic agriculture, which was directly driven by this long term perspective as they were under less pressure to extract quickly from the land, and were more concerned with promoting soil fertility. These initiatives are much needed to remedy our increasingly industrialised monoculture form of agriculture, which is rapidly depleting our soils. I particularly found the relationships between soil and land to be important, with land being an extended dimension of the soil. He gives the shocking statistic that every year 24 billion tonnes of soil are lost, often through compaction and building development. Overall, from organisations buying land and giving it back to communities to have stakes in, Fuchs argues there will be much greater land stewardship and we can tackle soil degradation through the commons.


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