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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10961/4097

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 livestock feed. 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 required. 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.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10961/4097
Appears in Collections:CNIDA - Documentos INIDA

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