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How does land get degraded due to human activities?

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Land degradation is a major problem that the environment is facing in modern times. Human activities are the major factors for degradation due to:

(i) Over-Grazing: Over-grazing involves the grazing of livestock like cattle, sheep, etc., over large areas of grassland and pastures. The large herds contribute to over-grazing because when they eat the grass or other shoots, they rip out the roots, leaving the land barren and infertile.

(ii) Shifting cultivation: It is a process of agriculture in which some areas of land are cleared for cultivation and then abandoned to retain its fertility by natural means. This practice leaves various lands unfertile and barren due to over-farming, or the excess growth of weeds.

(iii) Jhumming: Jhum cultivation is the name given to slash and burn method of cultivation in India. It is practiced by tribes and involves clearing up a piece of land by burning of vegetation, cutting of trees in forests to cultivate crops. After a few years of cultivation, the land is left unfertile and severe erosion occurs on the barren land.

(iv) Deforestation: This involves cutting trees on a massive scale to clear lands for building houses, agriculture and other human activities. It causes major land degradation because such lands become deserts due to infertility, erosion of essential soils, the extinction of some animal species etc. Rainfall is also affected drastically.

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