Changing functions of land

A man - land relationship based on usufruct rights and not on private ownership of land, among others, has the great value of making it possible to easily adapt to the changing functions of land. After W.W.II, the main function of land was to provide work and income to the agricultural population and to produce food for the non-agriculturists. Other functions at that time were only of limited importance. Within the course of time, more and more agricultural land was required for other purposes: cities and factories expanded, roads required more land, the areas used for sport and other recreational purposes increased and environmental concerns led to natural reserves and limitations in land use. These new additional functions lead to conflicts between agriculturists and groups with other interests which require regulation by land use planning and a functioning land market. Such increasing conflicts concerning land have become an important development on all continents due to the reduced availability of land and unclear property rights.

The new functions of land are important in all those regions in which part of the rural population, especially the youth, leaves cultivation and searches for non-agricultural sideline or full-time jobs. This can be the case near urban agglomerations as well as in remote, dry areas with small holdings and only limited income opportunities in agriculture. This development is taking place on all of the continents.

We must accept the fact that the interest in land has changed for many of the younger generation. Whereas the main desire their fathers and grandfathers had was 'access to land', the younger generation is looking to an increasing extent for 'access to income' and where they can gain access. This change, once again, calls for a land market in order to facilitate the transfer of ownership, of more usufruct rights and a mechanism for preventing the land from drifting into the hands of speculators and other undesirable groups. As part of the people concerned wish to continue farming within a multi-employment arrangement, there is a need for new ways to organize the cultivation of land, and new types of co-operation between full-time and part-time farmers, custom-work enterprises and land-management co-operatives.