Introduction to Soil and Water Conservation

Soil and Water Conservation within the Watershed Management approach
Soil and Water Conservation within the Watershed Management approach

Soil and water conservation is - in its outlines-  a worldwide strategy in the context of a sustainable and poverty-orientated natural resource management (Rauch 2007).

Soil and water conservation are those activities at the local level which maintain or enhance the productive capacity of the land including soil, water and vegetation in areas prone to degradation through

  • prevention or reduction of soil erosion, compaction, salinity;
  • conservation or drainage of water and
  • maintenance or improvement of soil fertility (WOCAT 2007).

These activities are to be selected and implemented according to the respective local conditions; i.e., the strategy is adapted at the local level.

Soil and water conservation is an integral part of Watershed Management. Although Watershed Management was formerly considered to be nearly synonymous with soil and water conservation, it goes far beyond it today, comprising a variety of further activities that attempt to improve the living conditions of the people living within the respective watershed (e.g., building of social infrastructure such as schools) (Bollom 1998).

Introducing soil and water conservation in the Gina River catchment may further the sustainable utilisation of natural resources for the benefit of local people (as the overall goal of Watershed Management). Its success will depend on the participation of local people with their traditional knowledge. After the detailed analyses of the watershed they will together select, implement and carry out the soil and water conservation measures suitable for the natural and human conditions of the Gina River catchment.

Some economic, institutional and political aspects have to be considered as well. Additionally, environmental education of the public involved and capacity building of regional actors is an important cornerstone for the success of Watershed Management projects (Förch and Schütt 2004 b). What participation means and why it is essential in Watershed Management you can learn now.