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Day 72 – Q 2.What is land degradation? What are the most common factors that lead to land degradation? How does land degradation affect the livelihood prospects of the poor? Discuss.

2. What is land degradation? What are the most common factors that lead to land degradation? How does land degradation affect the livelihood prospects of the poor? Discuss. 

भूमि क्षरण क्या है? भूमि क्षरण के सबसे आम कारक क्या हैं? भूमि क्षरण गरीबों की आजीविका की संभावनाओं को कैसे प्रभावित करता है? चर्चा करें।


Land degradation is the temporary or permanent decline in the productivity of the land. Land degradation is caused by multiple forces, including extreme weather conditions particularly drought, and human activities that pollute or degrade the soil.


Factors for land degradation:

  • Deforestation: Forests play an important role in maintaining fertility of soil by shedding their leaves which contain many nutrients. Therefore, cutting of forests will affect the soil adversely.
  • Excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers: causes imbalance in the quantity of certain nutrients in the soil. This imbalance adversely affects the vegetation.
  • Overgrazing: with loss of grass and other vegetation causes soil erosion.
  • Salination: due to the low Quality of Irrigation Water, excessive fertilizer use, poor drainage of soil etc.,
  • Water logging: Excessive irrigation and improper drainage facility in the fields cause rise in the ground water level which has salt content result in soil salinity.
  • Desertification: due to Degradation of vegetative cover, water erosion, wind erosion, salinization, excess of toxic substances etc.,
  • Soil erosion: where in the top most nutritious layer is eroded making the soil infertile.
  • Wind Erosion: depletion of forests leads to loosening of soil particles due to lack of roots and moisture in soil.
  • Water Erosion: which includes sheet erosion, rill erosion and so on leading to huge loss of top fertile soil along with plant nutrients through runoff water. 
  • Wasteland: include ravinous land, waterlogged land, marsh and saline lands, forest land, degraded land, strip land, mining and industrial wastelands.
  • Natural disasters like Landslides, Earthquake, forest fires etc., causing sudden movements and causing vegetation loss, soil erosion etc., and resulting in soil degradation.
  • Improper agricultural practices like lack of crop rotation, excessive and unscientific irrigation and so on.

Land degradation resulting in livelihood loss for the poor:

Land degradation threatens the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. This is particularly the case for populations living in rural areas where most of the poor people reside

  • Agriculture: Farmers who depend on agriculture suffer loss in crop failures or low productivity due to
    • Soil alkalinization owing to irrigation with water containing sodium bicarbonate leading to poor soil structure and reduced crop yields.
    • Soil salination in irrigated land requiring soil salinity control to reclaim the land.
    • Destruction of soil structure including loss of organic matter.
  • The forest dwellers depending on the minor forest produce suffer due to low collection of raw materials.
  • Animal husbandry would suffer due to lack of grazing lands, low fodder availability to feed the animals.
  • Land degradation will also make the population vulnerable to natural disaster whose frequency and intensity increases. To illustrate, lack of vegetation leads to landslides, floods etc., which also threaten livelihood of the people of which poor are more vulnerable.
  • Land degradation also impact rainfall pattern and climate change which has a direct impact on the rural poor and their livelihood specially in a agricultural country like India. 

Further, all the above has a chain impact effect where in the dependent population like the landless agricultural daily wage labourers, poor middleman and so on whose livelihood will be indirectly in peril due to land degradation.


IPBES report shows that 75% of Earth’s Land Areas Are Degraded which threatens human livelihood and very existence. Thus, the need is to reverse the trend by sustainable land management in agriculture, development and so on. There is a need to collaborate at state, national and international level and jointly implement programmes like Land degradation Neutrality project of UNCCD.

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