Erosional Hotspot – Himalayan Foothills
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The famous Himalayan Mountains are gifted with shining glaciers and continuous rivers, expressing beauty and elegance. Although the tops of these mountains are glamorous and dazzling, the foothills of these beautiful mountains are a critical erosional hotspot on earth. The Himalayan Foothills are found around the lower regions of the Himalayan Mountains, stretching from the west of Pakistan to the east of Namche Barwa (crossing six nations).
There are many causes for the Himalayan foothills to become an erosional hotspot. One big contributor towards the soil degradation in the area are humans. People have been living in the Himalayas for thousands of years. As the years go by, people move around the area, destroying the natural flora of the land. Some of these lands might originally be rich in biodiversity, yet as these lands are being populated by more people, the productive vegetation is destroyed. Also, as the global demand for natural resources increase, people go to the Himalayan Foothills to search for these rich resources, therefore destroying the vegetation along the way.
The increasing population in this hotspot has made the land become deforested for cultivation and land use by extensive logging. Logging in the steep regions of the Himalayan foothills ultimately leads to major erosion of the land. When trees are cut off, the land becomes bare and unprotected. This makes the earth vulnerable towards wind, water, or glaciers to erode the soil and earth. Another way of deforesting the land is by the use of fire. When people burn down forests, the fire may be uncontrollable, and it will destroy even more natural vegetation. This also encourages erosion of the land, because there is no vegetation cover to protect the earth.
Unsuitable agricultural practices and over-cultivation is another cause for the Himalayan foothills to become vulnerable to erosion. As the people that farm in the foothills use the same methods to farm the land again and again, the vegetation and nutrients are used up and not being restored. This makes the natural humus layer of the earth to deteriorate and unable to hold the soil together. The soil therefore may be eroded by wind or water, being blown or washed away to other places. Intense grazing by domestic livestock also destroys the land. Since the land is already weak with limited vegetation, the animals eat up the remaining grasses and vegetation, leaving the land to be bare. The naked land will be susceptible to wind and water erosion.
Humans arenÐÐŽÐ¦t the only reason why the Himalayan foothills are an erosional hotspot. Because of the original nature of how the Himalayans are shaped as, the steep foothills of the mountains are prone to erosion and mass wasting. At the top of the mountains are glaciers, and because mountains have a slope, avalanches are possible. Because of the existence of gravity, the snow, ice, or rock masses fall down, and as they tumble, they carry soil that they encounter on along the way, eroding the surfaces of the land. Rock slides are also common in the Himalayas, and the rocks will carry away the soil near the foothills as well. Finally, because the Himalayas have many rivers, during heavy rainfall periods, the rivers might flood and wash away the soil in the foothills.
The result of these causes make the Himalayan foothills become limited with vegetation and prone to erosion. Also, because of deforestation, landslides, rock slides, and avalanches are becoming more common. This eventually leads to environmental degradation, increased mass wasting, and animal and human losses.
Although human interference causes the foothills of the Himalayas to become weaker and weaker, humans can also help the land and prevent it from becoming a desert. First of all, people can stop populating the foothills of the Himalayas and search for another place to live in. If the population of the area decreases, then deforestation will also decrease. This way, the natural vegetation of the foothills will be preserved. The vegetation cover of the area will also grow back, and protect the soil from erosion. Secondly, people that farm in the area can practice better agricultural practices that can benefit the soil and earth. If people can find a way to cultivate the land without harming the soil, then it might be a good thing and restore nutrients to the soil. If nutrients can be restored back into the soil, then the humus layer will not deteriorate and the soil will be strong enough to defend itself against erosion. Thirdly, farmers can hold back on livestock grazing so that the vegetation of the area will not