Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
3Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Excerpted from "What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees" by Tony Juniper. Copyright © 2013 Tony Juniper. Reprinted with permission of Profile Books Ltd. All rights reserved.

Excerpted from "What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees" by Tony Juniper. Copyright © 2013 Tony Juniper. Reprinted with permission of Profile Books Ltd. All rights reserved.

Ratings: (0)|Views: 5,599|Likes:
Published by wamu8850
Excerpted from "What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees" by Tony Juniper. Copyright © 2013 Tony Juniper. Reprinted with permission of Profile Books Ltd. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from "What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees" by Tony Juniper. Copyright © 2013 Tony Juniper. Reprinted with permission of Profile Books Ltd. All rights reserved.

More info:

Published by: wamu8850 on Aug 05, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

05/14/2014

pdf

text

original

 
C
HAPTER
1
I
NDISPENSABLE
D
IRT
More Than 90 Percent:
World’s food thatis grown in soil
One Third:
Farmed soil degraded since themid-twentieth century
5.5 Billion:
Additional tonnes of carbon thatcould be captured each year with changedsoil management
HE
E
 AS
 A
NGLIAN 
ENS
were once a mosaic of wetlands,swamp forests and grasslands that stretched from north of Cambridge to where the coast of eastern England meets theNorth Sea at a huge shallow bay called TheWash. Today  just four tiny fragments of this once extensive natural habitatremain, surrounded by some of the most intensively farmed agricultural land in Europe.
The taming of the Fens was one of the great milestones in the his-tory of farming in England. For centuries farmers had battled Natureand water for control of the land, but in the seventeenth century awholesale transformation from wild wetland to productive modern
25
 
farmland got underway, masterminded by Dutch engineer CorneliusVermuyden. He straightened rivers and drained vast areas with wind-powered pumps using techniques developed in Holland.A major event in Fenland conversion came later, however: thedrainage ofWhittlesey Mere. Until the early 1850s, this reed-fringed expanse of water was the largest lake in lowland England.In summer it covered some 7.5 square kilometers. In winter italmost doubled in size and in places was more than 6 meters deep.It was full of fish and a magnet for birds.While the Dutch-inspired construction of new channels and wind-powered drainage had made a huge impact on the Fens, it was the in-stallation of the recently invented steam-powered centrifugal pumpthat brought about the rapid demise of this particular natural land-scape. The new pump could shift 70 tonnes of water a minute, and asa result of one being put in next to Whittlesey Mere, the traditionalsummer sailing and fishing, and winter wildfowling and skating, cameto an abrupt end. Other changes were also soon apparent.Holme Fen lies to the south of the city of Peterborough and is oneof those four places where anything resembling natural habitat re-mains today. In 1851 it was at the edge ofWhittlesey Mere. In 1852,anticipating some dramatic implications from the ongoing drainageworks nearby that was converting open water and reed-beds to wheatfields, local landowner William Wells put in place a unique and, as itturned out, very effective environmental monitoring project.Wells asked his engineer friend John Lawrence to sink a tall ironpost into the ground. He procured one that was said to have comefrom the iron-framed Crystal Palace that hosted the Great Exhibitionin London the previous year. The post was buried into the peat andfixed at its base to timber piles that were driven into the underlyingclay to make sure the post didn’t move. The top of the post was atground level.
26
WHAT HAS NATURE EVER DONE FOR US?
 
While the post has remained the same size and stayed where itwas, the land has not. Today the top of the iron column towers some4 meters above the surface of the now desiccated fen.As the groundhas contracted, some of the surrounding agricultural land now liesmore than 2 meters below mean sea level, making it the lowestpoint in the British Isles. The neat rows of fields with long straightroads and drainage ditches today give few clues that this part of north Cambridgeshire was once the bed of a substantial lake.The activities that led to the land literally shrinking were moti-vated by the financial rewards to be earned through farming therich peaty soils. These valuable sediments had accumulated sincethe end of the last ice age, when sea levels had risen, blocking theexit of Fen rivers to the sea. This caused the land to become water-logged; dead vegetation didn’t completely rot and this and otherorganic material accumulated as deposits that today are peat. Thepeat took some 8,000 years to build up and was to become someof the finest farmland in the UK. And, like all farmland, its pro-ductivity and value is first and foremost determined by thecharacter of its soil.
Out of Sight and Out of Mind
Beneath our feet, out of sight and often out of mind, soil is probablythe least appreciated source of human welfare and security. Morethan simply a prerequisite for farming and food production, it is aprofoundly complex web of interactions that enables many of theEarth’s life support systems to function.Soil is the medium through which the world of life (biosphere)meets the world of rocks (lithosphere). This is not simply reflectedin the fact of plants growing out of the ground. It is a highly complex
27
C
HAPTER
1: I
NDISPENSABLE
D
IRT

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->