Mitigation Plan for Land Degradation
Environmental issues are a major concern for everyone in the world. The environmental sustainability of natural resources is in danger. The consequences of human activities are affecting the quality or quantity of the air, the water, and the land. Each of these contributes to environmental balance and is vital for humans continued existence. Land, a terrestrial resource, has a role in the nutrient cycle of the environment, the growth of food sources, and the water quality. Soil consists of minerals, organic matter, and living organisms. Land degradation disrupts the ecological balance of the soil, which in turn threatens the sustainability of the ...view middle of the document...
And agricultural uses can drain the soil of nutrients leaving it unable to sustain. These actions affect the carrying capacity and sustainability of the land; land that we as humans depend on to live.
As much as we need the land, human activities are the biggest culprits of altering the soil. Natural weather occurrences, like wind and rain, cause some erosion but their effects are minimal compared to the effects of human actions. We do not realize the impact our needs are having on the land. Industrialized countries are big consumers. Food, energy, and products are produced at a fast pace to keep up with the demand. Increased agricultural use depletes the nourishment of the soil. Soil that is repeatedly cultivated can not be expected to replenish. Food is needed for survival but having it now without thinking about the future is a problem.
We are using too much energy. “In the United States, industry uses 42 percent of the nation’s total energy, buildings like homes and offices consume 33 percent, and transportation 25 percent” (Berg, 2009, p.17.1). This is the consumption for just one country. As other countries develop their needs increase also. This just adds to the problem. The rise in the production from nonrenewable energy sources has serious consequences. Acid mine drainage and radioactive wastes poison the soil. Mountaintop removal causes erosion. When nuclear powerplants are no longer functional, they are closed leaving the contaminated structure and surrounding land sitting dormant. The plants cannot be dismantled or used for hundreds and maybe even thousands of years. During this time the potential for leakage or exposure into the environment is possible. If this were to occur, it would be disastrous to the environment.
Human population is growing. World population is projected to grow from 6.1 billion in 2000 to 8.9 billion in 2050, increasing therefore by 47 % (United Nations, 2004). Along with the growth comes urbanization. Urbanization encroaches on the land. Between 1992 and 1997 the pace of land development was more than 1.5 times the previous 10 years (EPA, 2007). This changes the topography and the status of the areas environment. Building and clear-cutting voids the land of any vegetation. The natural flow of water is disrupted, which causes flooding. Erosion is inevitable. Increased waste is another by product of large populations. Landfills are a source for soil pollution. Humans are destroying the land with intrusion and poor soil management.
Current strategies being implemented to decrease land degradation include improving soil management and soil conservation. To reduce soil erosion areas are being protected with shelterbelts and terracing on hillsides. Both of these are successfully preventing the loss of soil from the wind or water. Sustainable agriculture is conserving the soil. Crop rotation, tillage, and contour plowing are three methods used to ensure the soil keeps it natural properties. The soil is not...