«Dissertation Zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades Doctor rerum agriculturarum (Dr. rer. agr) eingereicht an der Landwirtschaftlich-Gärtnerischen ...»
Chapter seven is the second chapter of results and explains the role of land-use change and conflicts related to these changes among the various users in the case of land degradation.
This chapter also tries to explain the relationship between two different types of conflicts, viz., land-use change conflicts and land distribution conflicts, and finally explains the relationship of these two conflicts with the study problem ‘land degradation’ Chapter eight is the conclusion of the whole study. This chapter synthesizes the major findings and conclusions, plus recommendations from this study.
Chapter nine summarizes the study and shows the main findings of each chapter.
2 Land Degradation: The Problem of the Study
2.1 Introduction Agriculture is by far the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy with a strong influence and linkages with all other sectors. It employs a forty five percent share to the overall labor force and contributes twenty two percent to the national gross domestic product (GDP). This sector is the bastion for the rural population. Cotton and rice are the major exports acquired mainly from the Indus river plain in Sindh and Punjab. Despite favorable conditions for agriculture, Pakistan is far from its full potential level of production; even the Indus plain is not fully utilized (Blood 1994). Among many constraints limiting agricultural production in Pakistan, land degradation is seen as one of the main reasons, and almost sixty one percent of its total agricultural land is affected by various levels of, for example, soil salinity, sodicity, and waterlogging, which is third in ranking among South Asian counties.
Agricultural production, particularly rice output in the study region, is under some strain, with a decline following the green revolution (Jahangir and Ali 1997: 25) because of land degradation (Mustafa 1991), which is the main cause of shrinking resource based for agriculture. The volume of rice exports has declined over the last ten years, and specifically in 2000, a sudden decline occurred of fifty percent (Gilani 2009: 3), possibly because of land degradation, which is a large problem in these rice producing areas. Pakistan is bearing the costs of a reduction of two percent of its GDP or seven percent of its agricultural output attribuTable to land degradation (Shah and Arshad 2006: 1). This shows that it is worthwhile to analyze the reasons for land degradation in these regions.
This chapter presents the topic of land degradation as the problem under study, together with a detailed explanation of land in Section 2.2. A relevant review of the literature is provided to explain the concept and meaning of the term "land degradation", which is further explained in Section 2.3. Section 2.4 focuses on the reasons for land degradation at the World level, whereas Sub-sections 2.4.1 and 2.4.2 elaborate briefly the situation in Asia and South Asia with regard to land degradation. Section 2.5 summarizes the situation in Pakistan and briefly discusses the causes and the history of land degradation in Pakistan. This is followed by a summary and conclusion in Section 2.6.
2.2 Land: Meaning and Definition
Land is an important component of a wider environment in which animals and plants live.
Soil and land are defined from different points of view; the following are the key definitions for both terms. Soil is the unconsolidated mineral or organic material at the surface of the Earth, capable of supporting plant life (Bridges 1977: 2). The concept of land covers the whole meaning of the land surface together with all those physical characteristics that are essential for the livelihood of a human being (Christian 1958: 28). The term land can also be defined in other ways; for instance, “Land and land resources refer to a delineable area of the Earth's terrestrial surface, encompassing all attributes of the reserve, the plant and animal populations and the human settlement pattern. It also includes physical results of past and present human biosphere immediately above or below this surface, including those of the near-surface, climate, and the soil and terrain forms. This term also encompasses the surface hydrology (including shallow lakes, rivers, marshes and swamps), the near-surface sedimentary layers and associated groundwater and geohydrological activity (terracing, water storage or drainage structures, roads, buildings" (FAO 1995a, FAO/UNEP 1997b: 1).
In simple terms, land can be explained as that part of the Earth that is not covered by water; hence, everything associated with the soil, air, and rocks, on the surface, below the surface, natural or added by man can be taken as part of the land. Land can also be defined as the combination of soil, water, vegetation, landscape, and microclimate components of an ecosystem (IFPRI 2006: 1). From the above perspectives, land can be considered as a "community" of soil and air, on and under the surface water, with natural or man-made habitats. A disturbance of this community may therefore reduce the efficiency of the land.
Different stakeholders interested in land or direct users of land hold different attitude towards land; for instance, it has generally been considered as a gift from God as it has played a central role in the life of human beings from the times of the earliest civilizations.
Economists have their own perception of land, as it has been a continuous source of wealth, power, and social prestige for its owners for millennia. People struggle to own land to improve their living standards, social acceptance, and personal satisfaction. Land is used for various economic developmental activities in order to provide better human conditions.
Economists also consider land as being a factor of production, but as being limited in its occurrence and immovable but essential (Gaffney 2004: 3).
Land has diverse uses, for example, the use of land in the production of agricultural and biotic material for human consumption, such as food, fiber, and fuel. Land is also used in the production of energy, the flow of surface and ground water, and the storage of minerals and
fossils, and is an important resource base for settlements, industry, and recreation (FAO 1999:
1). The above discussion clearly illustrates that land is “consumed” as a factor of production and for human satisfaction; however, if such “consumption” is not properly managed or is unsustainable, this may lead to a degradation of lands to a level making it impossible to exploit them to their full potential for agricultural and environmental services.
Institutional economics considers land as property, and this can be explained on the basis of its own specificity, which is characterized by spatial distribution, knowledge, and capital. It is also important to state that the concept of land helps in understanding the relationship between the qualities of soil and water for a specific region. The concept of the specificity of a region demands excludability, which is defined as a boundary for access to the land for some users, whereas others can be prohibited from entering a specific range or utilizing more than the agreed amount of benefits. If land is abundant and unlimited, then no one is concerned about his rights; however, in reality, land is a scarce and precious resource, and everyone is interested in their share. Subtractability deals with the appropriator’s use and diminishes the share of the land left for the other users. The degree of this characteristic is also dependent on the type of goods such as the degree of excludability; for example, for private goods, the degree of excludability and subtractability is high (Ostrom 1994: 7; Hagedorn 2002: 4). These characteristics of land develop the idea of ownership related to land property rights. Land is a valuable commodity, and property rights have to be assigned (Libecap 1989: 12). Improper property rights may cause degradation of land.
2.3 Land Degradation: Meaning and Understanding
About one sixth of the World's agricultural land has been affected to varying degrees by land degradation (Al Dousari 2000: 1). This is threatening 900 million farmers depending on arable farmland in around 100 countries because of the reduced productivity of the land (United Nation 1994: 1). Land degradation is defined as the utility cut-off pursuant to abatement under the physical, social, cultural, or economic conditions and in the natural ecosystem (Griffith and Richards 1989: 242).
The term ‘degradation’ originates from Latin, having the meaning ‘reduction to the lower rank’ (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987: 2). The concept of land degradation was used broadly in 1994, after the addition of this term to the US Library of Congress. Land degradation generally refers to the temporary or permanent diminution in the productive potential of the land (UN/FAO 1993b). This decline might be in terms of its major uses or in terms of its economic value. The term land degradation encompasses various indicators and gives a broad aspect to understanding the changes related to the land. This might be a change in soil quality, water amount, wind speed, or vegetation type (Stocking and Murnaghan 2000: 7). For instance, if we assume that the level of ground water has dropped and the land surface is becoming dry, then this is an example of land degradation. Similarly, deterioration in the soil also reduces the productivity of the land (UN/FAO 1993b). Such a reduction in the quality of land is referred to as degradation.
Both soil degradation and land degradation are commonly used terms. Soil degradation is a process that lowers the current and/or potential capability of soil to produce goods or services (FAO-UNEP-UNESCO 1979) or is a loss or a reduction of soil functions or soil uses (Blum 1997: 2). Land degradation encompasses soil degradation and the deterioration of natural landscapes and vegetation. The term land degradation thus covers a wide concept degradation and also includes soil deterioration.
There is a general consensus regarding two critical aspects of land degradation: 1) a significant decrease in biological productivity of land occurs in a natural way, mainly through changes in soil structure, soil fertility, or water level; 2) a decreased efficiency of land occurs as a result of anthropogenic activities (Johnson and Lewis 2007: 2).
2.3.1 Land Degradation as a Natural Hazard
This type of land degradation occurs because of topographic (changes that occur in the Earth structure) or climatic factors.
Land degradation through soil: Much arable land has lost its productive capacity because of soil degradation, which has two components; 1) soil erosion, which is the physical wearing away of the fertile soil surface attribuTable to the combined affect of wind and water and 2) a decline of soil fertility. Other major soil degradation factors include the improper use of marginal quality (saline/brackish) water for irrigation purposes leading the productive soils to become marginal (saline and saline-sodic). Soil degradation is a process that is related to biophysical activities and is aggravated by socioeconomic and political factors for different reasons (Lal 2001). Once the soil is degraded, it requires high inputs for crop production and hence leads to a high cost/benefit ratio.
Soil erosion by water: The disruption of the soil surface through rain drop splash impact and the subsequent removal of the soil by flowing water is an example of rain-induced water erosion. In arid and semi-arid regions, rain plays an important role in agriculture; however, its intensity and distribution throughout the year is important in crop production. World Meteorlogical Organization explains that high intensity rainfall creates problems for cultivation and causes severe floods that wash away good fertile soils; therefore, rainfall and its intensity plays a vital role (WMO 2005: 12). Water erosion is common in some countries, e.g., in Nepal, heavy rains have adverse effect on rain-fed slopes (Acharya, Tripathi and Donald 2002). Water erosion is of three types: sheet, rill, and gully erosion. Sheet erosion is common in flat plains, whereas rill and gullies are common in sloping landscapes.
Soil erosion through wind: Wind erosion is common in sandy desert areas, such as when landscapes are composed of sand sheets and sand dunes. Abdelfattah (2009: 1) has described the situation in desert-containing part of the Arab Emirates, and in Dubai, this type of soil erosion is the main reason for land degradation.