From Dr. Mercola:
The featured film, “The Lessons of the Loess Plateau” by John D. Liu reveals the pitfalls of agriculture. Yet it gives hope for the future — if we take the correct route. Man has done great damage to the environment with our short-sighted vision for food security and the production of goods.
Yet projects such as the regeneration of the Loess Plateau in China show that when we make the right corrections, we can reestablish a thriving environment once more, and much quicker than expected.
The Loess Plateau was until recently one of the poorest regions of China where centuries of agriculture had taken its toll. Erosion turned once fertile soils in this mountainous region into a desert-like landscape, unable to support plant growth. Similar situations exist all over the world.
In fact, according to Maria-Helena Semedo, Ph.D., of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), if the current rate of land degradation continues, all of the topsoil around the world will be gone in 60 years.1 There is hope though — provided we DON’T continue the way we’re currently going.
Soil scientist Liu of the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) has followed the Loess Plateau regeneration project for the past 15 years, and today, the once barren landscape is again filled with thriving forests, and farmers are again able to produce abundant amounts of food.
The film documents this truly historic project, and how lessons learned at the Loess Plateau might help restore fertility to barren lands around the globe.
Poverty and Land Degeneration Go Hand in Hand
The regeneration of the degraded Loess Plateau began in 1995, when locals joined forces to construct a new landscape on a truly vast scale. As noted by Liu, many of the tragedies witnessed around the world on a regular basis are actually rooted in improper land management.
Floods, mudslides, droughts and famines are not inevitable, he says. Moreover, all over the world you find that poverty is closely connected to land degradation, so poverty is not an inevitable fate either.
The good news is that the destruction can be reversed. We have the ability to dramatically improve the condition of the land, thereby reducing these kinds of threats to our health and wellbeing.
So how did the locals on the Loess Plateau do it? First, they ceased farming in certain areas to allow trees and shrubs to regrow. This was by no means easy, as poverty-stricken farmers had to be persuaded to let their land rest and turn into forest.
Ultimately, what got everyone onboard was the promise that they would have tenure of the land and that they would directly benefit from these efforts.
Next, the tops of the hills were replanted with trees, and terraces were constructed for the planting of crops. At the bottom of the barren ravines, dams were constructed to provide water.
Hills and gullies were designated as protected ecological zones. Farmers were financially compensated for…