Exhibition and lecture show stark effects of soil erosion

One of the striking images captured by photojournalist Carey Marks demonstrating the impact of soil erosion in Tanzania. Credit: Carey Marks/University of Plymouth

The complex connections between communities and their environment are to be revealed in a stunning photographic exhibition at the University of Plymouth.

The striking images were captured by photojournalist Carey Marks in Tanzania, where the University is leading a research project examining the impact of soil erosion on both the environmental and social wellbeing of people living in the East African nation.

The Jali Ardhi project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between academics in Plymouth, The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, University of Exeter, Schumacher College and the International Water Management Institute.

The images showcasing the initial stages of the research will be on display to coincide with a lecture by Patrick Ndakidemi, Professor of Agricultural Sciences at The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, and Will Blake, Professor of Catchment Science in Plymouth.

Speaking when the project was launched in December 2016, Professor Blake said:

“In countries for which agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, there are always going to be tensions between growers, pastoralists and conservationists. With growing populations and increased demand for food, the landscape is approaching a tipping point so finding a means by which to augment food production while preserving the quality of the land for future generations, is essential. By creating an evidence base around the environmental, social and cultural impacts of soil erosion, we hope to devise a system which can have positive affects in this region and others across the world.”

The project – the title meaning ‘care for the land’ in Swahili – involves researchers using sediment drilling techniques to assess the current and historical impacts of soil erosion alongside systematic surveys of soil degradation.

They are also speaking directly to those within local communities, establishing how soil erosion is perceived and how those perceptions might be influenced in future.

The images in the exhibition show members of the project team and those living in the communities most affected by soil erosion.

They also show the stark effects of soil erosion on the Tanzanian Maasai landscape over the past decade, which has led to almost total destruction of the soil resource in many areas used for grazing of livestock.

The public lecture about the project is taking place in the Stonehouse Lecture Theatre at the University of Plymouth on Thursday 25 May, with the exhibition running from Tuesday 23 to Wednesday 31 May in the Atrium of the Portland Square Building.

Credit: Carey Marks/Plymouth University

Will Blake, Professor of Catchment Science and Principal Investigator on the project, said:

With growing populations and increased demand for food, the landscape is approaching a tipping point so finding a means by which to augment food production while preserving the quality of the land for future generations, is essential

Read the original news release about the project launch

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