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Degradation of Soil

   Soil degradation is an old issue that is becoming bigger with every passing year. And it is not a process that started few years ago, it is a process that goes back through our history. There are few things that can be classified as degradation in quality of the soil. Decline in biological, chemical and physical properties are things that determine the loss of the quality of the soil. Transport of the soil from its original place and erosion are both also considered as factors of soil degradation.

   Erosion makes soil move, away, and this causes in fewer layers of soil on certain place. Not every bit of land around you is good for growing, and soil on top may be good, but soil from few feet under is not. But I want to focus on other forms of soil degradation, decline in properties of the soil is what I want to discuss.

   First you should understand what leads to soil degradation considering the theme we are discussing. Well the removal of plants, and constant ploughing and over-grazing are some of the factors that cause soil degradation. Let me explain. Plants protect soil from other elements and prevents large loss of carbon in the soil. Remove plants and there is nothing to stop that loss. Constant ploughing that loss makes bigger. And by removing layer of plants from the soil their roots are removed too, so their purpose as organic food for the enrichment of the soil disappears.

     So the loss of carbon is the major factor of soil degradation. In this time 2 percent of carbon in a soil is deemed enough and that is the bottom line after which soil degradation ensues. Some claimed that Australia always had a bad soil with low levels of carbon. But in research it was discovered that once their soil had up to 37 percent of carbon. With that and few other facts we can say that soil degradation in Australia began with first white man.

   That is a fact, but I don’t have time to talk lengthy about that because I want to tell you about recovery of the land that is degraded to the point that it has under 10 percent of carbon. There are a lot of articles written about soil healing, you can search for specific information by reading some works from Vladislav Davidzon or some other permaculturists. I say permaculturists because they are already doing soil recovery within their permaculture systems, and their principles can be used in soil recovery on bigger surfaces. You can also join this movement by getting permaculture design certificate.

   Well the main reason for carbon loss and soil degradation is removal of plant life, so it is logical that the first move is to grow plants on that soil. Plants that won’t be pulled out every half of a year. Then as it is done in permaculture systems mulch is the next step. Mulch is used to give plants nutrients through the soil, so by doing this soil receives things it lacked. There are few other techniques that can be used for soil recovery and one that is as natural as first technique is grazing fields on soil that is degraded.

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Permaculture and Regenerative Leadership Institute

            Permaculture is a complex system of codes and principles that is focused on achieving the best possible connection with nature and applying natural designs and patterns into everyday lives of humans. Basic idea behind this system is to produce sustainable ecosystems, which would require only renewable resources and minimum labor, and in return give maximum results and be healthy and organic, if food is produced. However, permaculture as a concept is so elaborate that nowadays it is present in various aspects of human activities, from natural building, agriculture and gardening, to economy and social relations.

            First appearances of the actual term “permaculture” go back to 1978, when an Australian professor and his graduate student coined this term, and published a book called “Permaculture One” which is often regarded as the starting point of this movement. Their names were Bill Mollison and David Holmgren respectively, and they are often called “the founding fathers” of permaculture. Naturally, they had some role-models and major influences on their work was left by Joseph Russell Smith (an American environmentalist who was the first to use the term “permanent agriculture” in his book “Tree Crops” from 1929) and Masanobu Fukuoka (a well-known Japanese philosopher and author, who was popular due to his frequent appearances in documentaries on environment and his “do-nothing” organic farms, but also because of his lectures that he gave all over the world and a best-selling book “The One-Straw Revolution” from 1975).

            In a similar way, Mollison and Holmgren had their own students and influenced numerous experts and activists from all over the world. One of notable examples is Vladislav Davidzon, an environmentalist and entrepreneur, who had the good fortunes to learn from Mollison himself. This young businessman and nature lover already had several highly successful projects that were focused on sustainable living and usage of renewable resources (for example ThinkHost –the first web hosting company that was powered solely on renewable energy sources), but in 2004 he started his most ambitious project: Regenerative Leadership Institute.

            This design school is focused on permaculture ideas and principles, but Davidzon slightly revolutionized the way permaculture courses were held. His program has a more pragmatic aspect to it, and it also demands total immersion in nature (or as much as possible) and following permaculture principles list . In little more than a decade of active teaching, this popular Institute had more than 250,000 clients from more than 95 countries from all over the world. In 2013, Vladislav Davidzon made another big step when he decided that his courses could be available for free on the official website of Regenerative Leadership Institute. Check his LinkedIn profile.

            Topics that are discussed on the program from this Institute definitely follow the great ideas of permaculture, or the famous three tenets and twelve principles that were established back in the late 1970s by Holmgren and his professor. Renewable resources, protection of the soil, water harvesting and re-usage, recycling of waste, ecological building, economical aspects of permaculture, organic farming and similar, are all regular discussion themes “on the menu” from this Institute, and people usually leave the program feeling empowered enough to start leading healthy and fulfilled lifestyles.

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