Land Potential

What is Land Potential?

Land potential is defined as the inherent potential of the land to sustainably generate ecosystem services. Management determines whether the inherent potential is sustainably realized. Land potential includes three elements: (1) inherent potential for generation of ecosystem services, (2) potential degradation resistance, and (3) potential resilience, which is the capacity to recover following degradation.(Source: UNEP IRP Report)

Land potential can also be defined in terms of the capacity of land to support more specific land use objectives, including its potential to provide the resources necessary for one or more species to complete their life cycles and reproduce. The value of applying the land potential concept to biodiversity conservation is that it allows the potential future range of species to be predicted based on habitat requirements, rather than relying solely on historic or existing plant and animal community patterns. This is particularly important where climate change and invasive species modify the conditions necessary for species of interest to survive and reproduce.

Through an understanding of climate, soils, and topography, land potential can be seen as the potential of the land to be degradation resistant (the ability of the land to resist disturbances) and resilient (the ability of the land to rebound after disturbances). Application of the land potential concept can support sustainable agricultural production, biodiversity conservation, and other ecosystem services.

How LandPKS addresses Land Potential

Different types of land in different climates have different potential, production, and resilience.

It’s important to understand not only the production capacity of the land, but also the resilience. If an area of land is non-resilient but has high productivity, it requires one type of management where soils with high productivity and high resilience require another.

By using land potential to determine land management practices, one study (see images below) showed a 40% reduction in soil loss while production (bu/acre) continued to increase1,2 (Based on BD = 1.2 and 0.77ha pitch = 143939km).

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