Sustainable uses of environments

Humans need to use their environments to supply their needs but irreversible damage can occur if they are not managed sustainably. Various strategies can help to keep the use of environments sustainable to protect them for future generations.

Sustainable management of the forest

Brazil needs to exploit the Amazon’s resources to develop, so leaving it untouched is not an option.

Uncontrolled and unchecked exploitation can cause irreversible damage such as loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, flooding and climate change. So sustainable use of the forest is essential. Sustainable development will meet the needs of Brazil’s population without compromising the needs of future generations.

Possible strategies include:

  • Agro-forestry – growing trees and crops at the same time. This lets farmers take advantage of shelter from the canopy of trees. It prevents soil erosion, and the crops benefit from the nutrients from the dead organic matter.
  • Selective logging – trees are only felled when they reach a particular height. This allows young trees a guaranteed life span the forest will regain full maturity after around 30 – 50 years.
  • Education – ensuring those involved in exploitation and management of the forest understand the consequences behind their actions.
  • Afforestation – the opposite of deforestation. If trees are cut down, they are replaced to maintain the canopy.
  • Forest reserves – areas protected from exploitation.
  • Monitoring – use of satellite technology and photography to check that any activities taking place are legal and follow guidelines for sustainability.

Sustainable management of the savannah

Conservation is the key to protecting the Serengeti for future generations. A sustainable future could be achieved if the following policies are adopted:

  • local people employed by investors
  • respect for local cultures and customs
  • local people should receive some financial rewards from tourism
  • sustainable methods are used in order to protect the environment
  • improved conservation education programmes for local communities and farmers

Possible strategies to achieve these goals:

  1. Harvesting branches rather then whole trees to prevent deforestation, soil erosion and desertification.
  2. Controlled burning of grassland to avoid wildfires.
  3. Crop rotation to keep a varied supply of nutrients in the soil and prevent soil erosion and desertification.
  4. Stone lines along the soil contours keep it in place, prevent erosion and improve crop yields. Projects such as this can involve the whole community and give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  5. Managing grazing land to avoid overgrazing, soil erosion and desertification.

Solutions to desertification – some disadvantages

  • Afforestation – newly planted trees need water, which will be a problem in a drought-stricken region.
  • Building stone lines – reduces soil erosion, but is a labour intensive process which diverts the community from tasks essential to their survival.
  • Decreasing livestock – solves the problem of overgrazing but requires people to adapt if they rely on cattle or goats for their livelihoods.
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