Land degradation is any change in the condition of the land which reduces its productive potential. This includes the loss of topsoil, the loss of vegetation and increasing soil salinity.
The degradation of agricultural and pastoral land in Australia is a matter of considerable concern.
Factors that have contributed to land degradation include:
Land degradation from human activities has the following effects:
Impacts of land degradation
Land-degradation impacts are felt by the agricultural industry. Thus the economic and social effects of land degradation are felt most by the people involved in agriculture. For example, in relation to soil, in the short term the economic and social effects may come from the reduced capacity of the soil to sustain plant growth for crops or pasture, resulting in reduced yields.
practices lead to natural vegetation being replaced by plants more suited
to the agricultural systems. This occurs either through direct clearing
and replacement of native vegetation by overgrazing, by changes in water
availability and salinisation, or simply by the failure of the native
species to recruit new individuals to replace those that die. Although
land clearing was seen as essential to grow food and fibre, it has opened
our land resource to damage by erosion, destroyed soil structure and changed
soil chemistry and caused a loss of biodiversity and other problems.
(Source: TAFE Queensland and Department of Natural Resources Module ASP3056: Environmental Impacts: Issues, 1999)