Women's Earth & Climate Action Network, International
The Women's Earth & Climate Action Network is a solutions-based, multi-faceted effort established to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions. For Our Earth and Future Generations A project of Women's Earth and Climate Caucus and its partner eraGlobal Alliance
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Holistic Land Management - Reversal of degraded grass lands

Started by: Maria


Degraded Landscapes

Savory Grassland Management specializes in the reversal of degraded landscapes. We turn severely degraded land into productive grasslands using various low-cost, high impact techniques. The methods we employ improve your soils and simultaneously increase your profits.  Dramatic results can be realized in as little as three years.

Degraded Landscapes?

A degraded landscape is simply a loss of biomass (weight of living organisms on the land) and biodiversity (number of different organisms or species living in an area).  Degradation has generally been caused by humans and the decisions they make that have negatively impacted species numbers.

For example when healthy grassland is plowed up and a monoculture of wheat is planted, the numbers of species of plants have gone from the many hundreds to a single species.  When the soil is further disturbed through the process of repeated plowing and planting, many hundreds of millions of soil microorganisms including fungi are lost.  Over time the nutrients remaining in the soil continue to be depleted as the whole system is not functioning as it should.  The water cycle, the nutrient cycle, and the mineral cycle cease to function properly when a monoculture is planted.  After a period of time, farmers begin to apply chemical fertilizer to compensate for the depleted fertility of the soil.  These chemical fertilizers are simply salts which increase yield temporarily but further deplete soil microorganisms.  Eventually the salts build up and no crops can be grown.  Thereafter the land turns to blowing sand (silica) with no life or carbon stored in it.

Another example of a healthy grassland becoming degraded can be when a hunter gatherer society wipes out vast herds of grazing animals over time through a combination of hunting and burning.  When these large herds have declined to the point of extinction or near extinction, we notice that the grasslands start to die.  Man has replaced these large herds with relatively small herds of livestock which are most often managed in a way that isn’t complimentary to healthy grasslands.  What is happening instead is that the grasslands are dying from overrest which sounds counterintuitive.  In a nonbrittle environment where there is rainfall year round, this does not apply (England).  However in a brittle environment where there is a distinct wet and dry season, overrest has caused the massive spread of deserts (Sahara Desert, the Middle East, American Southwest).

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Linda Moskalyk posted

I am also involved in an area that was severely degraded by poor agricultural practices. I work at the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in Costa Rica. The land was agricultural but not sustainable. Farms were encouraged as a way to boost the economy in Costa Rica. The problems with taking down the rainforest are many. The topsoils eroded, wildlife disappeared, and the affect on the water quality from lack of trees was astounding. Today this land (made up of 7 farms) has been reforested. The topsoil is slowly recovering with the replenishing of leaf litter and microbial activity. The wildlife has returned and the river is sparkling clean. Amazing what trees can do!

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