Taking Back the Earth: How to Reclaim Land from Erosion Damage

In Environment, Reclamation, Soil Stabilization by Bob Vitale

This article takes a look at how reclamation techniques can be used to combat and prevent erosion of usable land and how land can be effectively, permanently reclaimed.

Land reclamation is the recovery of land from wetlands or other water bodies, and the restoration of productivity or use of lands that have been degraded by human activity or impaired by natural phenomena. Reclamation can be a tool in both preventing erosion and can also be used to repair land that has already been eroded.

Erosion and Reclamation Occurring Naturally

Erosion of land is originally a natural process known as geological erosion and has been occurring naturally for millions of years. Geological erosion is generally a lot slower and often even goes unnoticed. When geological erosion takes place, there is enough time for natural reclamation of the land to occur, because the soil of the land is usually being eroded at roughly the same rate as the new soil is being formed.

The easiest example of natural erosion and reclamation is a river path. Geological erosion due to the moving water of the river causes soil to be eroded from one bank and moved by the river to another bank. The buildup of soil on one bank and erosion of soil on the other slowly causes a change in the river’s path over time.

Human activities like agriculture, mining and building have accelerated all of these natural erosion processes past the rate at which natural reclamation can correct them. In order to minimize the effects of erosion, reclamation and prevention techniques need to be put in place.

Preventing Erosion in Reclaimed Areas

Reclaimed areas are particularly susceptible to erosion as they either used to be occupied by some body of water or occur in an area favorable to erosion. Naturally, vegetation will ensure lasting reclamation as the roots of the plants and trees hold the soil together and prevent it from being eroded. With the accelerated erosion occurring, however, there is no time for vegetation to grow sufficiently to support the soil and there is often no practical way to incorporate vegetation into the design.

A common erosion control practiced found in mine reclamation and throughout the construction industry is riprap, where any appropriately sized stones, made from rock or other materials are fitted to the slope and shape of the area being reclaimed.

Another solution is using a jute mat that protects the soil from erosion while allowing vegetation to grow through the matting. This allows the vegetation time to develop and grow strong enough to support the ground itself.

Midwest’s soil stabilization and soil erosion control products can eliminate up to 98 percent of erosion problems at the source and ensure compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements as well as other EPA regulations.

Midwest’s open-air erosion control solutions will prevent polluted storm water runoff that can pose life-threatening harm to fish, wildlife, and the aquatic habitat; prevent sediment from clogging waterways; eliminate the threat of stream bank erosion; and cut grading and surface-maintenance costs.

Quality Environmentally Safe Reclamation Eliminates Erosion

Reclamation of the eroded land does not only need to be timely, it also needs to be effective and environmentally safe. For any reclamation project to be done properly, Palafox, founder of Palafox Associates and one of the pioneers of green architecture and urban planning in the country, cited the importance of a study that would focus on “environmental impact and social acceptability”, not just the economic and financial aspects.

Reclamation, if done correctly, can significantly minimize erosion effects and have long lasting effects on the area.

Bob is founder and CEO of Midwest Industrial Supply.