Uses and Abuses of Soil and Water Resources: An Historical Review.
Daniel Hillel, Goddard Institute, Columbia Univ, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
The earliest evidence of land management and mismanagement is found in the Near East, where humans first made the transition from nomadic hunting-gethering to sedentary farming and herding of livestock. Cultivation of sloping lands caused water erosion and sedimentation, while irrigation of poorly drained river valleys caused water-logging and salinization. Examples are given of conditions and practices that made long-term land management either sustainable or unsustainable: why some early civilizations succeeded while others failed. The same age-old problems still beset soil managment in modern times as shown by examples from Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas.