Today there are many types of land-uses which causes its degradation and ultimately result in soil and environmental degradation. Some important causes of land-degradation are the following.
(a) Deforestation : Cutting down of trees in forests and clearing these lands for agriculture, roads, industries and human habitation is one of the chief causes of land degradation.
(b) Land-fills: Rapid population growth and industrialization have caused accumulation of huge on land. Many of these wastes are radioactive or non-degradable. When deposited in low or underground these wastes causes damage to soil and land surface.
(c) Soil erosion: Soil erosion on account of bad farming practices, grazing, over-use of agricultural land, water run off, wind erosion, use of toxic chemicals and fertilizers in agriculture has also turned vast areas of land into dust bawls.
(d) Mining : Mining for mineral resources has changed the landscape of many parts of the world. Mining leads to construction of settlements, roads, factories and other structures in the area. It causes much greater damage to land surface than deforestation.
(e) Over exploitation of ground water resources: Depletion of ground water resources due. to over exploitation has led to many areas being converted into deserts and soil erosion. This poses the danger of another dust bowl tragedy. The worst effected areas are Delhi, Punjab and Haryana.
Today the problem is not only of prevention of soil erosion but land-degradation. Some of the important conservation measures include the following:
(a) Check on the wastes : With India’s population exceeding 1 crore, the problem of disposals of wastes in solid and liquid form is assuming gigantic proportions. In cities and towns there is no more land available for sanitary landfills. So the only alternative left is recycling of biodegradable wastes, shredding of non-degradable plastics and developing new technologies for their use. For this purposes citizens vigil and and awareness to separate wastes at source is essential.
(b) Treatment of land : The traditional soil conservation techniques like contour ploughing,limiting sheet and gully erosion through plugging of gullies and planting of shelter belts of trees in opposite direction of winds to check wind erosion are also suggested. Since the problem has become acute, an integrated approach of treatment of land based on the principle of erosion control measures including, treatment of drainage lines and gullies are suggested for the block as a whole.
Assistance is taken from various sources and farmers make only 10% of the total contribution.
(c) Watershed Management: A watershed is a crestline dividing two drainage areas. Many water sheds also encompass forest lands. Therefore, entire watershed is to be treated in an integrated manner. Improvement of vegetation cover in each water shed has to be placed under the charge of an apex authority in the area. The resources poor families in the watershed area have to be identified and provided the necessary resources to undertake improvement of degraded lands under their charge land.
(d) Management of Water Resources : Science and Technology Policy 2003 gives high priority to preservation, protection and efficient utilization of water resources. It also aims at strengthen measures to argument ground water resources. It hopes to train skilled personnel in areas facing problem, of over exploitation of ground water resources in order to conserve and convert surface flow during four months of rainy season into sub surface flow.