Haritima : The Environmental Society Of Hansraj College

Land Resources, Land Use Change, Land Degradation, Soil erosion and Desertification

Land Resources and Land Use Change

  • Land resources include hills, valleys, plains, river basins, wetlands, etc.
  • Land is a finite resource, but if utilized properly it can be considered as a renewable resource. It will be converted into non-renewable when immensely toxic industrial and nuclear wastes are disposed on it.
  • Land is the most important and basic natural resource, upon which all human activity is based.
  • Throughout history, humans have drawn most of their food, fuel, clothing, and shelter from the land.
  • It is useful as a place to live, work, and play. It acts as a major contribution to the economy in agriculture, forestry, grazing, fishing, and mining.
  • It is considered as a basis of social prestige and is the basis of wealth and political power.

Driving forces behind Land Use Change:

  • Building homes
  • Cultivating food
  • Developing industries for providing goods
  • For creating towns and cities.

Land Degradation

  • Increasing urbanization, modernization, and industrialization are the major causes of land degradation.
  • Man’s progress towards development has considerably damaged land resource.
  • The exponentially growing population in the country has put excessive pressure on the dwindling land resources, putting into danger the survival of the biome as a whole.
  • Some major causes also include soil erosion, water-logging, and excessive salinity.
  • The most critical issue is deforestation.
  • The excessive use of chemical fertilizers poisons the soil so that eventually the land becomes unproductive.
  • The growth of urban centers and industries causes the agricultural land and forest to shrink. This causes long-term ill effects.


  • Farmland is endangered due to excessive utilization. Each year, between 5 to 7 million hectares of land is added to the current degraded farmland.
  • According to statistics, out of the total land area, about 175 million hectares face degradation.
  • India is a large agricultural society and hence has an immense responsibility to fulfill the growing demands for food, fuel, fiber in addition to the environmental security for the people in the upcoming time.

Soil erosion

  • It is defined as the displacement of the upper layer of soil and is in itself a form of soil degradation.
  • The top layer of soil gets continuously eroded by various natural agents like air and water
  • Excessive erosion can be due to overgrazing, deforestation, mining, etc.
  • The agents of soil erosion can be either water or wind.

Types of Soil Erosion

1) Water induced erosion

  • Splash erosion It is the first stage in the erosion process which is caused by rain. Raindrops just bombard the bare land and destroy its basic structure, ultimately resulting in runoff.
  • Sheet erosion It is a gradual and uniform removal of soil in thin layers. This occurs when the rainfall intensity is greater than the soil infiltration ability. It results in the loss of fertility.
  • Rill erosion It happens when the water penetrates deeper into the soil and forms faster-flowing channels.
  • Gully erosion It is an advanced stage of land degradation by water. It causes huge losses and destroys farmlands.

2) Wind-induced erosion

  • It is the natural movement of wind that causes soil movement from one location to another by wind power. It has the power to cause significant economic and environmental damage.
  • It damages human health as airborne dust can cause asthma and other health problems and agricultural production by stripping away the fertile top layers of the soil and organic matter.



  • It is defined as the process of conversion of productive land to arid or semi-arid lands.
  • Its causes include climate change, deforestation, overgrazing, mining, unsustainable irrigation practices, etc.
  • Some effects include difficulty in farming, decrease in crop yields, flooding, poor water quality, biodiversity loss, migration, etc.
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