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Land Degradation In Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

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Land Degradation In Murray-Darling Basin, Australia

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ESSAY TOPIC: There has been much recent publicity about the crisis of land and water management in the Murray-Darling Basin. Critically examine some of the major issues of resource management in the area and discuss what you think are the most appropriate solutions to the problem.

INTRODUCTION The Murray-Darling Basin, which covers an area of 1.06 million square kilometres, equivalent to one-third of the total area of Australia, plays a very important role to the country. Not only does it provide one-third of Australia's total income, over two million people depend on its resources for their livelihood (Burton 1991). Unfortunately, the Basin has been suffering from serious problems created by those people who are living on it. Unsustainable management practices since the moment of European settlement have destroyed the Basin's land and water resources so severely that the destruction has been called "the crisis of land and water management'. Land degradation, water quality and land and water salinity are three major problems considered by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission as the consequences of negative management practices. In this paper, I will examine three major issues of land and water management, which are land clearing, unsustainable agricultural practices and irresponsible irrigation. Some suggested solutions to the problems, which I think are the most appropriate, will also be presented.

MAJOR ISSUES OF RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN Land clearing The first serious issue of resource management is land clearing or clearing of native vegetation. This is considered a major issue in the Murray-Darling Basin as it leads to many significant problems such as land and water degradation. As Crabb (1997, p. 70) states in his study, since the moment of settling, Europeans have made a great impact on vegetation in the Murray-Darling Basin. Many species of deep-rooted native vegetation have been cleared and replaced by shallow-rooted crops...