Bridging the gap of perception is the only way to align soil protection actions

Sci Total Environ. 2020 May 20;718:137421. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137421. Epub 2020 Feb 19.

Abstract

Science is the seed of a decent life, with which we sow hope in the present and which we irrigate with the perfecting of good deeds. It is even crucial in the Mediterranean southern frontiers where the cultural erosion dissolves the structure of a society abandoned by the arms and brains of its youth. Soil-water-vegetation crisis should not be underestimated; coupled with socioeconomic congestion it would lead to an irremediable crash. Here, we show that the first and most difficult step to face soil degradation is to cultivate the right idea and develop it into a well-established community culture. We found in northern Morocco that 94.5% of farmers have no qualification and 82.6% of them act in a way that worsens soil degradation even if they are aware of the severity of the problem. This confused perception of ideas originates inappropriate labour behaviours non-aligned with public actions. Our results show that the impact of this is a high potential regional erosion rate of 27.7 t/ha/year which is equivalent to a massive potential gross amount of soil loss of 44.3 Mt/year. We show that this leads to an overall vegetation decrease related mainly to the anthropogenic pressure then to climate and lithology. We anticipate that the solution must be comprehensive, participatory, strategic and innovative, led by education and scientific research (Citizen Science) and involving all actors equally. In its broad context, the only path to achieve the coordination and alignment of actions would be through a gradual change of perception and involvement based on a time-consuming culture of assimilation and acceptance rather than a culture of rapid reform.

Keywords: Erosion; Farmers; Mediterranean; Phenology; Remote sensing; Survey.