What are the causes and effects of erosion? Are there ways it can be prevented?

1 Answer
Aug 23, 2016


There are multiple causes and effects of erosion and solutions often involve conserving natural areas.


Erosion can occur naturally by wind, water, and gravity.

Humans can also cause erosion or increase the rate of erosion through various activities.

Deforestation causes erosion. The roots of trees and other plants hold the topsoil in place. When we clear an area for agriculture or other purposes, we lose these roots and the topsoil is more easily washed away during storms or blown away due to wind.

Agriculture can also cause erosion, as unsustainable practices such as planting mono crops, surface irrigation, and chemical fertilizers that destroy beneficial bacteria in the soil all contribute to erosion.

Surface irrigation:

Urbanization causes erosion as land is converted to pavement and vegetation cover is greatly reduced, increasing rates of wind erosion. Water runoff is increased, and run off often carries pollutants with it which negatively impact the surrounding land.

Other effects of erosion include increased flooding, increased sedimentation in rivers and streams, loss of soil nutrients' and soil degradation, and, in extreme cases, desertification. It becomes harder to grow crops on eroded soils and local flora and fauna typically suffer.

Erosion can be prevented by conserving forests and natural landscapes, managing water effectively, planting multiple types of crops in regards to agriculture, not farming on slopes, and using more sustainable agricultural practices in general. Planting native vegetation is one straight forward method of preventing soil erosion.

To learn more check out this WWF link, this link on the impacts of erosion in Queensland, Australia, or this link on land on desertification and land degradation.