Soil Conservation


THE Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Organisation has recently published a beautifully produced booklet entitled "Soil Oonservation-an Internationai Study" (Washington, D.C.). It comprises 190 pages, of which about half are occupied by pictures. Thus the problems of world soil conservation are covered in about a hundred pages oftext. The idea behind the publication appears to be to appeal to politicians, administrators and publicists without whose co-operation the urgent need for soil conservation may be overlooked until too late. These will get the impression that soil conservation is an American invention. It is not an entirely false impression, but there are countries- for example, Japan and Java, and, for that matter, Great Britain and others-in which soil conservation is so highly perfected that the ‘problem' of soil conservation scarcely exists, and the achievements of these countries in adapting their methods of land utilization to the environment have consequently been overlooked. The authors of the booklet admit that "much attention has been given to China and the United States of America" ; but it would be more accurate to say that the United States gets 75 per cent of the space, China 10 per cent, and the rest of the world 15 per cent. It is worth quoting all that this leading internationai agriculturai authority has to say on physical losses from the mismanagement of farm lands in the world outside the United States, China and Latin America. Under the heading "Other Countries", it is stated : "All over the world, wherever man has cultivated sloping land, there has been soil erosion in some degree. In the Mediterranean region of Europe, in Asia, in North Africa, in tropical Africa and South Africa, and in India its results have been described, but littie measurement has been made of its extent or severity. "One of the results in India that "have been described" is far more human misery than soil erosion has caused in the whole of the United States. Australia and New Zealand are other countries that appear to have been overlooked.

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JACKS, G. Soil Conservation. Nature 162, 13–14 (1948) doi:10.1038/162013a0

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