Land degradation is currently one of the world’s most difficult environmental issues- and it just recently got worse without proper action or rapid remedial action. Globally, it can be noted that about 30 percent of the total land area has completely degraded. Yet, the other part (i.e. 70%) we have left is degrading as we speak.
Did you know that when land is degraded, the soil carbon and nitrous oxide within the land are released into the atmosphere? This makes land degradation one of the most effective drivers and contributors to the climate change we are experiencing today.
Scientists state that about 24 billion tons of fertile soil are lost yearly. This is why they caution human activities, assuming that if such a pattern proceeds, 90 percent or greater of the planet Earth’s land could become degraded by 2050. So What Is Land degradation and how can we minimize it or avoid it? Read on…
What is Land Degradation?
Land is one of the most vital resources on planet Earth humans harness, just like water and air. The continuous or progressive reduction in the level of the productive capacity of soils now and in the future is a challenge we all should stand and fight. In this battle, Silt Sock is near, and it’s a powerful weapon.
Land degradation is usually characterized by man-made-induced activities or natural occurrences, and sometimes both. It affects our topsoil, the vegetation cover that grows on our soil, and also affects our water resources. As with climate change, this is a global issue. Millions of human societies are being affected. Many leave their homes with no choice but to migrate in severe cases.
Going by the existing considerable definitions, land degradation in simple terms means a negative transformation in the quality of the land.
We experience changes in the characteristics and quality of our surrounding soils every day. This leaves our soil in a state with less fertility strength. Land degradation is a process that represents the consequence or feedback of human direct activities. This is a multifaceted issue which can be any of the following:
- Total loss of vegetation cover
- Loss of natural fertility a soil requires (As a result, we have a loss of nutrients)
- Land degradation also defines pollution. Our water resource could be contaminated by a particle that is swept off or runoff from the soil into water bodies.
- The massive change in climate conditions is due to the irregularities in our environment.
- Changes in the characteristic of our soil
Land degradation can appear to be either a permanent or temporary declination in the productive capacity of the land. Combating this issue requires a full understanding of the entire landscape relating to any given area.
Causes of Land Degradation
Land degradation can happen naturally, but human activities lead us to most of the damage. The entire process of the deterioration is connected with the impact of climate change. Few among climate change are global warming and also loss of biodiversity.
Deforestation: This is one of the most common human doings or activities that brings about the degradation of land. The greenery world, which is another word for the Forests, plays a huge part in maintaining our soil fertility state. This is done by constantly feeding it with nutrients in different ways such as fallen leaves and fruit, plus from animal droplets too.
The roots of the trees also contribute to the preservation of the soil’s structure. All human efforts toward bringing into existence their wishes and desires. We have even gone as far as to cut down the forest trees without replacing them. The excessive cutting down of forest trees has undoubtedly contributed its part to land degradation.
Moving on to another man-made cause of the so-called land degradation. This has to do with the development of unfertile soils by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides on such soil/land. Although all this has become crucial to producing rich crops, the overuse of such is known to massively deteriorate the affected land.
Certain nutrients which are seen to be natural within the soil become imbalanced and unsettled. Such is the consequence of the extensive usage of fertilizers. Thus posing a positive effect on a short-term base but a negative long-term effect on our land. Good farming exercises will always look to hit the balance, especially when the short-term benefit of eliminating pests and growing larger crops is offset by the long-term disadvantage of land degradation.
In addition to all the causes of land degradation mentioned beforehand, overgrazing is yet another human activity that promotes land degradation. Grazing usually involves livestock and feeding. In order to feed the livestock, they are moved from one patch of land to another. Within a land area, livestock feed on grasses and other vegetations but couldn’t regenerate at a sufficient rate.
The resulting lack of vegetation hinders such land from its needed nutrients and reduces its bearing capacity. It is characterized by loss of fertility, which is referred to as the degradation of the soil. Today, it is a major issue all over the world. Long-term livestock grazing on small patches of land causes rapid land degradation.
How to Avoid Land Degradation
Much has been said about land degradation, but let’s talk about what can be done to avoid it or reverse the effects of land degradation. Governments and independent bodies have set out some policies to guide and manage human acts. Such practices must be implemented to minimize the occurrence of land degradation. In places where land degradation is at an early stage, prevention practices must be immediately put in place.
The most effective measures in preventing the degradation of land are by making proper awareness available. This is achieved by sufficiently informing the people about the dangers of the disasters. Educate them about what causes it and the consequences attached to it from different human activities. Prevention is better than cure — they say. Thus, preventing land degradation at an early stage is much less expensive when compared to trying to reverse it after effect.
Most natural actors of land degradation, such as heavy rain and strong winds, are obviously beyond our control. So, it’s hard to avoid them. (According to a report by the United Nations and The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on land degradation assessment and prevention). It is stated that the man-made causes of land deterioration need to be better managed or eliminated to avoid land degradation.
Means of avoiding land degradation regarding the mentioned causes above
Deforestation to begin with — all the cutting down of trees without replacement should be kept to the very least level. Everyone should follow their deforestation activities by reforestation (Afforestation). Afforestation is very important for our land to be well kept and rich in quality fertilities with all the vital nutrients it needs or requires of producing us with our needs such as food.
This land degradation issue, unfortunately, is also severe on dry lands too. The landscape of the dry land covers about 40 percent of the global land area (Global land area, meaning the world’s land). People who depend on this dry land are massively vulnerable to the effects of drought and land degradation.
With all the activities we engage ourselves in, sustainability should always be at the back of our minds. Sustainable farming is what we need to be practicing at all times. This has to do with good management of the fertilizer and pesticide levels used. It also avoids soil weakening, which happens mostly as a result of livestock overgrazing.
Land degradation is an alarming issue that is expected to be everyone’s concern. Yeah, you read it right, everyone (every community and every country). Although, our world has massively changed, looking from a technological point of view. But yet, our lives, let’s say our survival still heavily depend with no single doubt on the quality of our lands. This is a bitter truth everyone needs to realize before it’s too late.
The loss of soil quality not only affects agricultural exercise but also creates a huge effect on our socioeconomic state. Such implications relate directly to the health of our planet. Land degradation is seen everywhere. Although, the rural communities, those in poverty, and small-hold farmers suffer most of the effects.
Since the world population is projected to rise by about 35-40 percent in 2050, such increments in the human population attract higher demand for agricultural products such as fuel, food, and fiber among others.
That being said, the pressure on global land resources would also increase because of a series of natural factors around us — natural factors such as climate variability and extreme weather we are experiencing recently.
We are all responsible for every decision and action we take. To save our planet Earth’s resources, we must all manage. There is a strong need to create a sustainable system that would help replenish and restore a sustainable atmosphere within our ecosystems. Let’s do our part to help this situation, call KC Silt Sock to assist in this.