The aim of those developing and subsequently managing land in rural areas should be to ensure that the native flora and fauna are preserved, along with the agricultural productivity of the land. Unfortunately, there are few places where this has been achieved; land degradation (as indicated by increasing soil salinization, wind and water erosion, pollution of water supplies and the loss of soil productivity due to depletion of nutrients) and species loss has usually followed development.
If we are to retain nature conservation values and preserve agricultural productivity, the processes leading to soil salinization, wind erosion, water erosion and fouling of water supplies, etc. must be reversed. This will involve revegetating very large areas, i.e., whole landscapes. At present we know much about rehabilitating small areas such as mine sites and other derelict land, but we know little about restoring entire water catchments, or land systems. We need to understand how to conserve existing remnant areas to prevent further loss of species and to find ways to revegetate extensive areas of cleared and degraded landscapes.
Having established methods to carry out the restoration process, they will need to be put into practice; this is beyond the resources of the agencies responsible for conservation and land management, which should act only as consultants to local communities who will need to carry out the work.
Communication and education are vital in the process of developing community involvement in research, monitoring and restoration of their land. It is only by involving people during the research and monitoring that they will become aware of the detrimental changes to their environment, particularly the natural resources. If people do not become aware of these changes as they occur, then it will not be possible for them to be motivated to restore the landscape.