Reducing Land Degradation
What Else Can Be Done (Page 1)

In previous articles, Professor Nils Nykvist shared his knowledge on what we can do for reducing land degradation on our precious planet. Methods he talked about include improving slash-and-burn agricultural practices, increasing the availability of nutrients in soil and having better water management systems.

Below, he shared on what else could be done for land conservation, which includes reducing the occurrences of fires, improving the management of livestock, and tree-planting for better access to firewood.


By Professor Nils Nykvist

Reducing the occurrences of fires

One of the most important measures to reduce the ongoing land degradation is to prevent the great waste of natural resources that unnecessary fires bring about.
In addition to a reduction of the amount of nutrients in the soil and an increase of soil erosion, a plant’s capacity to produce organic substances by photosynthesis is not fully utilized when the plants are hampered in their growth by fires.

The larger the plant production is, the more nutrients are released from minerals by chemical weathering. The best land husbandry is therefore to have vegetation as dense as possible for the prevailing site conditions. Unfortunately, a great plant biomass also increases the risk of more harmful fires.

Fires usually start when combustible materials on the ground catch fire, which later may spread further up into the crowns of the tree. The most important measure to stop fire is therefore to prevent flammable materials from accumulating on the ground. The most common way is to make a firebreak, which must be sufficiently broad and also kept free of combustible materials.

A common reason that so many forest plantations in the tropics are destroyed by fires is that the vegetation in the firebreaks is too rich. If vegetation is to be kept down by fire, the burn must be controlled by frequent small fires during the vegetation period, so that the fire in the dry season is not so strong that it spreads into the area to be protected against fire.

Better ways to reduce the amount of flammable material than to burn it in the fire breaks are to cultivate the land in the firebreaks and remove crop residues before the most dangerous time for fires. Other ways to keep vegetation down are through intensive grazing, or harvesting vegetation in the firebreaks and using it for composting.

Improving the management of livestock

In most tropical countries the cattle graze freely in the surroundings of the settlements, which usually are located near a water source. As most cattle are dependent on daily access to water, the land closest to the settlements will therefore be hard grazed.
When the dry season begins, the animals therefore have to seek their food further and further away from the settlements. A large proportion of the energy resources then goes to the trek between grazing area and water supply. The animals also compact the soil, which results in greater surface runoff and water erosion during the rainy season. During the dry season, the cattle set fine soil particles in motion, which are blown away by the wind

See the references for this article.

>> Page 2

Return from this page on What Else Can Be Done For Reducing Land Degradation (Page 1) to The Land Degradation Series

Return from this page on What Else Can Be Done For Reducing Land Degradation to All Recycling Facts Homepage

Sign up for
Love4Gaia Newsletter
to receive free green living information and environmental news.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Love4Gaia Newsletter.

Get eco-friendly and organic products at reasonable prices (over 100 quality brands):

  • eco-friendly cleaning products
  • natural personal care items
  • green cosmetics
  • organic food items
  • organic baby care products
  • organic supplements

To receive a FREE $5 DISCOUNT COUPON through your email, simply fill in your details here.