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Wind, salt and water are leading indicators of land degradation in Abu Dhabi
Date:5/6/2009

Desert environments are characterized by poor vegetative cover, strong winds, dry, non-cohesive sandy soils, and hyper-arid conditions. In this context, the land resources of Abu Dhabi Emirate in the United Arab Emirates are subjected to various land degradation stresses, including wind erosion, salinization, waterlogging, landfilling, and overgrazing. To sustain the land resources of Abu Dhabi Emirate, land degradation is a matter of urgency and must be accorded greater significance on the environmental agenda. Mahmoud Ali Abdelfattah, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, studied representative samples from degraded soils and analyzed them for selected parameters relevant to specific indicators. He characterizes the major land degradation indicators in Abu Dhabi Emirate and suggests better conservation strategies and management options in a recent article in Soil Survey Horizons.

The study found that, among natural forces of land degradation, wind has a major role in moving soil from loose surfaces, and mainly in dune areas. Wind is the main cause of irreversible land degradation in the arid environment of Abu Dhabi. Wind erosion indicators are formation of fall dunes, blocking of highways, dust storms, nebkha features, reduction of waterways capacity due to deposition of sand, exposure of hardpans at the surface, and gravel lag. Nebkha dunes, formed from sediment accumulations around shrubs, have been considered a reliable indicator of rapid dryland degradation. As a preventive action, afforestation has been practiced on about 330,000 ha in Abu Dhabi Emirate. In addition, many green belts in urban areas and along roads have been established. Forestry plantations are an important effort in combating wind erosion and offer multiple benefits, such as hydrological balance, enhancement of environmental quality, habitat restoration, and improved aesthetic value.

Soil salinity is also a threat to agricultural farms and coastal areas. Due to the pr
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@soils.org
608-268-4948
Soil Science Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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