As for our land, well we have done our best to stuff it up. Mostly through ignorance we have attempted to turn a fragile and ancient landscape into European farming pastures. The impact has been dramatic. The ability of our land to function properly has been affected. Our land has been degraded.
What is Land Degradation?
Damaging changes to our land happen because of how we use it. These changes are on top of what occurs naturally, are unwanted and mostly brought on by us. Our land is less able to produce crops and has reduced economic value.
Ecosystems continue to work but are unable provide the best crops, food, grazing and habitat for native plants and animals.
More than half of Australia’s agricultural land is considered ‘severely degraded.’ Rising salinity (due to over irrigation and loss of native vegetation) costs Australia 100’s of millions in lost production every year. Salinity kills farmland, spoils drinking water and destroys natural ecosystems.
Former Murray Darling Basin Commission chair Professor John Lovering reckons that parts of our country are already stuffed and that salinity could not be beaten. Australia has to learn to live with it.
‘This is not a copout but recognising that the problem is so large that we can’t turn back the clock,’ he said.
The bad news, it seems, is that so many of the things that we do everyday cause pollution. Poor farming and land management practices are difficult to turn back.
There is good news – in many farming communities, replanting of native forests are bringing wildlife back. Trees planted along riverbanks are reducing erosion. Vast plantings of strategically placed saltbush are drawing salt from the soil. Reduced irrigation is leaving salt deep in the soil rather than bring it to the surface where it kills crops.
Cool Australia has planted 20,000 trees on degraded farmland in the Habitat 141 project in Western Victoria.