Agriculture and environment

Lockie, Stewart (2001) Agriculture and environment. In: Lockie, Stewart, and Bourke, Lisa, (eds.) Rurality Bites: the social and environmental transformation of rural Australia. Pluto Press, Annandale, NSW, Australia, pp. 229-242.

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By any measure, the impact of agriculture on the environment is immense. As an activity that relies on the substantial modifi¬cation of ecosystems and which covers some 61 per cent of the Australian landmass, 1 this is hardly surprising. The key issue, however, is not whether agriculture is responsible for environ¬mental change, but whether or not those changes are sustain¬able in the long term. Just what a sustainable agriculture might look like is a difficult and contentious question that we will examine further in this chapter. Nevertheless, in very general terms, sustainability is defined as the ability of current genera¬tions to meet their needs and aspirations without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same thing. So while sustainability is an inevitably slippery concept, we do know that aiming to achieve it has something to do with the maintenance of ecological processes and biodiversity, along with equity, justice and caution in relation to our use of resources. We also know that sustainability has become a popular concept, espoused in almost all areas of government policy and, together with 'the environment', a regular focus of attention for the mass media. While the language of 'sustainability' is relatively new, the search for stable and resilient agricultural systems has been a central feature of 200 years of European agriculture in Australia. Yet the evidence suggests that sustainability is still a long way off. This chapter begins with an overview of environ¬mental degradation associated with Australian agriculture before turning to its main task, a sociological analysis of the social relationships that are responsible for these impacts.

Item ID: 31264
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-86403-169-0
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2017 04:58
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960601 Economic Incentives for Environmental Protection @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960504 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments @ 40%
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