Sample Geology Questions on Green Gold

Question 1

According to John Liu’s video clip, a number factors influence land degradation. Regarding China’s Loess Plateau, the video illustrates that extensive and prolonged agricultural exploitation had denuded the valleys and hills of vegetation life. Additionally, the relentless grazing of domestic animals on the slopes prevented the chance of young shrubs and trees to grow. Due to the lack of vegetation cover, the rainfall washed away the top soil and in over a millennia, the land’s fertility had been was destroyed. In Jordan, keeping and letting thousands of sheep and goats to walk and graze over a small area has also led to the diminishing of plant cover hence the degradation of the land. Lastly, wetland Rwandan Rugezi was also affected by the issues of people moving into the protected areas and farming, which reduced the vegetation cover hence led to erosion and less rainfall. As such, it can be concluded uncontrolled agricultural activities were the main causes of land degradation of Loess Plateau, Jordan, and Rwandan Rugezi wetland.

Question 2

In the observed degraded systems, it is noted that uncontrolled human activities lead to the degradation of the environment. In the case of Jordan and China’s Loess Plateau, long term grazing led to the natural plant cover being eaten away, which led the land to be bare. The exposed soil was vulnerable to the effects of rainfall as the top fertile layer was washed away making it hard for plant cover to regrow. The same scenario was experienced in Rwanda’s wetlands. However, in the Rwandan case, land degradation was caused by people encroaching on protected water catchment areas and cultivating on them. The aspect of clearing land for cultivation had the same effect as the one experienced in Jordan and China’s Loess Plateau. The result was degradation. As such, human activities are reinforced by environmental to result into a degraded system.

Question 3

A number of approaches were employed to restore the land. Solutions to the problem were derived from its causes. For example, in China’s Loess Plateau, it was agreed that people would refrain from grazing their livestock in the degraded area. Secondly, large scale reforestation measures were implemented whereby the locals, with the support of the government, took part in large scale growing of plants that could survive in the area. In Jordan, grazing in some of the lands was banned for a couple of years and the land left to recover. The result of the measure positive since plant cover and biodiversity improved on their own. With respect to wetland Rwandan Rugezi, the government helped in reforestation activities and in relocating the people from the wetland, which led to its restoration.

Question 4

Improvements were observed in the restored ecosystems in less than three years. In wetland Rwandan Rugezi, the area grew lush plant cover and rainfall improved, consequently, hydroelectricity generation improved. In Ethiopia’s case, increased plant cover as well as surface water was observed as the land became restored. Similarly, Jordan experienced noticeable improvements within the first three years of setting a portion of land aside for natural vegetation to regrow. Specifically, it was noted that the land became healthy, fertile, and full of biodiversity.

Question 5

The central theme of hydrology is that water circulates through the earth via different pathways and rates. Hydrology is concerned with the movement of water within a given state in between its various states. In the case in question, storm runoff, infiltration, and stream flow either lead to the breaking of the existing hydrology cycle or its maintenance. The breaking of a healthy hydrology cycle can have lasting adverse effects, such as acute lack of rainfall, on the environment, which can lead to degrading of the land’s biodiversity. As such, in the restoration process, it is important to identify the factors of hydrology (storm runoff, infiltration, and stream flow), which could have led to the degradation the land thus come up with respective effective measures of restoring the concerned land. Moreover, the theme of hydrology is critical in the restoration process since it dictates on the amount of natural water that a land is able to receive and retain, a factor that is crucial in the restoration of a land’s biodiversity.

Question 6

Hurdles might be experienced when restoring large masses of lands. For example, changing the way of life for people who depend on agricultural activities, such as crop cultivation and grazing, can be difficult since it can adversely affect the people’s way of life thus they might resist it to protect themselves. Secondly, restoring large areas requires resources, such as the purchase of thousands of seedlings. These resources might be limited in supply and hence might be a hurdle to a successful ecological restoration. Lastly, the prevailing weather condition might pose a significant hurdle. In this case, leaving a land to restore itself without the possibility of it receiving some rainfall might lead it t being degraded by other factors such as wind erosion.