Causes and Effects of Watershed Degradation

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USING SUITABLE EXAMPLES FROM KENYA, EXAMINE THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF WATERSHED DEGRADATION AND SUGGEST POSSIBLE INTERVENTION MEASURES

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CAUSES, EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS TO WATERSHED DEGRADATION

PREAMBLEPage 4

1. INTRODUCTIONPage 4 - 6

2. Causes of Watershed DegradationPage 7
2.1 Land degradation7 - 8
2.2 Deforestation8
2.3 Removal of vegetation8
2.4 Shifting cultivation without adequate fallow periods9 2.5 Overgrazing9
2.6 Poor farming methods9 - 10
2.7 Cultivation of marginal lands10 - 11
2.8 Improper crop rotations11
2.9 Unbalanced fertilizer use11
2.10 Pests and diseases11

3. Underlying causes of degradationPage 12
3.1 Land shortage12
3.2 Land tenures12 - 13
3.3 Economic pressures 13
3.4 Poverty 13
3.5 Population increase14
3.6 Wind erosion14
3.7 Over pumping of ground water14

4. Effects of Watershed Degradation Page 15
4.1 Soil erosion15 - 16
4.2 Water erosion16
4.3 Desertification16
4.4 Salinization and Nutrient Loss16 - 17
4.5 Decline in soil fertility17
4.6 Degradation of soil structure17 - 18
4.7 Soil acidification18
4.8 Water pollution18 - 19
4.9 Wetland Degradation 19 20

5. Watershed ManagementPage 20
5.1 Terracing20
5.2 Adding organic matter20
5.3 Avoiding excessive tillage and soil compaction 21 5.4 Managing pests and nutrients efficiently21
5.5 Keeping the ground covered 21
5.6 Increasing diversity22
5.7 Combating desertification22 - 23
5.8 Wetland protection23

6. ConclusionPage 23 - 25

7. ReferencesPage 25

CAUSES, EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS TO WATERSHED DEGRADATION

PREAMBLE
SOIL is one of the most vital of our natural resources. Together with water and air, it forms the very basis of life. Indeed, there is a thesis, quite difficult to refute, that the rise and fall of civilizations in history can be linked to the quality and management of their soil and land. For from the soil comes food and other crops and plants that provide medicine, clothing and so many other things we need for daily life. And the retention of soil in its natural state and habitat prevents erosion, river silting and flooding. When land is disturbed or degraded, the ecology is damaged. There can be rather serious effects in terms of soil erosion, loss of soil fertility and thus reduced plant growth or crop productivity, clogging up of rivers and drainage systems, extensive floods and water shortages BY Maritin Khor

1. Introduction
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Water is always moving in a downward direction, so when precipitation falls to the ground, the water will either soak into the ground or flow across the surface toward the closest body of water as runoff. The lay of the land determines the direction water moves through and across the ground. Ridge lines, easy to identify on topographic maps, define the boundaries between watersheds.

Water is the "lifeblood" of environment and the land that surrounds that water is the "muscles and bones" of the environment. Together, land and water make a watershed, a whole system. A "watershed" is the term describing an area of land united by the flow of water, nutrients, pollutants and sediments, moving down slope to the lowest point, through a network of drainage pathways that may be underground or on the surface. Generally, these pathways converge into a stream or river system that becomes progressively larger as the water moves downstream. Watersheds can be large or small. Every stream, tributary, or river has an associated watershed, and small watersheds aggregate together to become larger watersheds. Watershed boundaries are...
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