Issue: Contributions of land to human life - Living materials from the land
This is an issue under the Land theme of the Data Reporting System.
The land contributes many necessities to human life but extracting those contributions can exert pressures on the land environment (see ‘Pressures of human activities’). Environmental degradation resulting from these and other pressures could ultimately erode the land’s capacity to supply these necessities. In the shorter term, the additional effort needed to increase or even to just sustain contributions at current levels in the face of environmental degradation could exert even greater and more damaging long-term pressure on the environment.
To have the full story, it is therefore important to track not only what is happening to the pressures, the resulting condition of the land and the societal responses but also what is happening to the contributions. If the contributions can be maintained or increased while responses are undertaken to ensure that environmental pressures are reduced and environmental condition maintained or improved, then the contributions from the land can become environmentally sustainable.
Food, mainly provided through agriculture, is one of the most basic of all the contributions of the land to human life. Its production through agriculture places a range of pressures on the land, including: vegetation removal to make way for farmland (in turn leading to habitat and biodiversity loss, erosion, rising salt, soil carbon export, degradation of water catchments, changing micro-climates and loss of greenhouse sinks); fauna loss as habitat is destroyed or because they are killed as ‘pests’ because they compete for crops or pasture; pressures resulting more directly from the presence of introduced domestic animals (such as grazing and hoof damage to water courses); and pollution from fertilisers, pesticides and, especially in the case of intensively farmed livestock, pollutants resulting from high concentrations of excrement.
Products other than food provided through agriculture are also important contributions of the land to human life. Their production places a similar range of pressures on the land as food production.
- LD-08 Average tonnage and value of food produced per hectare of land under food production
The tonnage and value of food that the land is currently producing, by the area of land used to produce it, is one way of tracking the contribution of the land to the human food supply in the context of the area of land on which the food production places pressure.
The indicator includes both exported and domestically consumed food, since the exported food contributes to national income. This income in turn contributes to the purchase of all the additional food consumed in Australia which is not produced domestically. The indicator also includes food used for companion animal consumption, as these animals are an aspect of human life to which the land contributes. As far as possible, however, it excludes food grown as feed for meat, egg or dairy producing animals, as this would be double counting.
- LD-09 Average tonnage and value of other (non-food) agricultural products per hectare of land under production
The tonnage and value of cotton, wool, biofuels and forestry that the land produces for human use, by the area of land used to produce it, is one way of tracking these contributions of the land to human life in the context of the area of land on which their production places pressure.
The indicator includes both exported and domestically consumed products, since the exported products contribute to national income. This income in turn contributes to the purchase of other products consumed in Australia which are not produced domestically.
- BD-23 Some selected nationally significant native terrestrial species subjected to harvesting and population trends
Plants and animals both farmed (agriculture) and wild are harvested from the land for human use. Data on these harvesting activities is needed to monitor their contribution to human life.
- HS-48 Material Flows in Human Settlements
Material flows analysis provides insights into the movement of food from terrestrial sources.
- LD-19 Land use and land use change
The range and changes of land uses in Australia provide information about the changing value of various agricultural products to human life.
- Land - Land condition- Land cover
- Land - Land condition- Soil stability and quality
- Land - Land condition- Condition of terrestrial species and ecological communities
- Land - Land condition- Hydrology
- Land - Direct pressure of human activities on the land- Soil loss and loss of soil quality
- Land - Direct pressure of human activities on the land- Land clearing
- Land - Direct pressure of human activities on the land- Salinity
- Land - Direct pressure of human activities on the land- Species introduction and species change
- Biodiversity - Landscapes- Ecosystem diversity
- Biodiversity - Pressures on biodiversity- Land clearing
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities- Conservation status of species and ecological communities
- Biodiversity - Pressures on biodiversity- Grazing pressure
- Biodiversity - Pressures on biodiversity- Changed hydrology
- Coasts and Oceans - Contributions of the coasts and oceans to human life- Food
- Human Settlements - Services provided by the environment to human settlements- Agriculture
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Links to data in the DRS
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