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|Title: ||Draft environmental report on Cape Verde|
|Authors: ||University of Arizona, UA|
|Issue date: ||1980|
|Publisher: ||University of Arizona|
|Abstract: ||Faced with recurrent drought and famine during five centuries of human occupation,
the small and densely populated Cape Verde Islands have a history of
severe environmental problems. The arid climate and steep, rocky terrain provide
scant resources for traditional subsistance farming under the best conditions,
and in years of low rainfall the failure of rainfed crops causes massive
food shortages. Agricultural use of steep slopes where rainfall is highest
has led to soil erosion, as has removal of the island's vegetation for fuel
and livestock. Pressure on the vegetation is particularly severe in dry years.
International aid can provide relief from famine, and the introduction of modern
agricultural and conservation techniques can improve the land and increase yield,
but it is unlikely that Cape Verde can ever be entirely self -sufficient in food.
Ultimately, the solution of Cape Verde's economic and environmental problems
will probably require the development of productive urban jobs so the population
can shift away from the intensive and destructive use of land for subsistance
farming. In the meantime, the people of Cape Verde can best be served by
instituting fundamental measures to conserve and restore the land so that it
can be used to its fullest potential.
The primary environmental problems in Cape Verde today are:
1. Soil degradation. Encouraged by brief but heavy rains and steep
slopes, soil erosion is made worse by lack of vegetation. Soils
are also low in organic matter due to the practice of completely
removing crop plants and natural vegetation for food, fuel or
2. Water shortage. Brief and erratic rainfall in combination with
rapid runoff makes surface water scarce and difficult to use.
Groundwater supplies can be better developed but capabilities are
poorly known and the complex nature of the geological substrate
makes estimation difficult. Water is the critical limiting
factor to the agricultural capability of the islands.
3. Fuel shortage. Demand for fuel is intense and has resulted in
the virtual elimination of native vegetation. Fuelwood supplies
are becoming more and more scarce and costly. Development of
managed fuelwood plantations and alternate energy sources is
4. Inappropriate land use. Much of the land now used for raising
crops or livestock is too steep or too arid for these purposes,
causing erosion and destruction of vegetation. Improving yield in
more appropriate areas and encouraging less damaging uses of the
remaining marginal lands can help to alleviate this problem.|
|Appears in Collections:||CNIDA - Documentos INIDA|
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