Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Watershed Management’ for class 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Watershed Management’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Watershed Management
- Essay on the Introduction to Watershed Management
- Essay on the Concept of Watershed Management
- Essay on the Principles of Watershed Management
- Essay on the Objectives of Watershed Management
- Essay on the Steps Involved in Watershed Management
- Essay on the Components of Watershed Management Programme
- Essay on the Importance of People’s Participation in Watershed Management
Essay # 1. Introduction to Watershed Management:
Tree cover has been depleted, soil erosion has increased, water table has gone down, severity of drought increased and ecological degradation of drylands is greater than few decades ago. Degradation of environment in drylands is basically attributable to the increasing biotic pressure on the fragile ecosystem in the absence of appropriate management practices to augment and conserve the land and water resources.
There are outstanding examples of success at Religon Sidhi and Adgaon in Maharashtra, Kabbalnal and Mittemari in Karnataka and Jhabue in Madhya Pradesh, all of which show that dryland agriculture can be remunerative. It is in this context that watershed management assumes significance.
A Watershed can be defined as an independent hydrological unit. It is a drainage basin or catchment area of a particular stream or river. In simple terms, it refers to the entire upstream topography around a defined drainage channel which feeds water to the lands below. A watershed may vary from a few hectares to several thousands of hectares.
In other words, watershed is drainage area on land surface from which runoff from precipitation reach a particular point called common outlet. Simply, it is a land surface bounded by a divide which contributes runoff to a common outlet.
Watershed is a continuous area whose runoff water drains to a common point, so that it facilitates water harvesting and moisture concentration. A river basin is the largest watershed that can be imagined but for the purpose of dryland agricultural development the areas chosen are usually around smaller streams and are denoted as mini or micro-watersheds of about 500 ha, equivalent to more or less the average area of a village.
Watershed development refers to conservation, regeneration and judicious use of all the resources—natural (land, water, plants and animals) and human within a particular watershed. Watershed management tries to bring about the best possible balance in the environment between natural resources and human and other living beings.
Watershed management is a holistic approach which aims at optimising the use of land, water and vegetation in an area to deviates drought, moderate floods, prevent soil erosion, improve water availability and increase fuel, fodder and agricultural production on a sustained basis.
In the past, a number of approaches such as farm-family approach, component-wise approach and community approach have been suggested for translating the watershed approach into development programmes.
But, it was realised that development of dryland requires a holistic approach for overall improvement in the natural resource base and development of land based on crop suitability. Watershed programmes look simple but are often quite complex.
Limited success of watershed programme indicates that it was mainly due to:
1. Inadequate analysis of physical and socio-economic environment.
2. Indifference to farmers’ circumstances.
3. Strong bias towards crop production.
4. Lack of farmers’ involvement; and no flexibility in the technological options to suit farmers’ needs and their resources.
5. Lack of continuation of the soil and water conservation measures up to the point of financial support.
6. Poor acceptance of contour-based water conservation measures due to their disregard to ownership boundaries.
7. Antipathy of farmers to maintain structures like diversion drains, which cost money and resources to some farmers but benefited others.
8. Inadequate arrangement on social fencing to protect forestry and pasture lands.
9. Lack of focus to address the problems of livelihoods of landless labourers.
10. Disregard to indigenously known and practiced methods of soil and water conservation.
11. Lack of clear arrangements and understanding on sharing of the harvested water.
In addition to these constraints, inadequate subsidies, inadequate arrangement of modern inputs, lack of group action, poor marketing and processing facilities of new products, inadequate price incentive, timely and inadequate credit facilities etc. were responsible for the partial success of these programmes.
Essay # 2. Concept of Watershed Management:
As the entire process of agricultural development depends on status of water resources, watershed with distinct hydrological boundary is considered ideal for planning developmental programmes.
Planning and design of soil and water conservation structures such as bunds, waterways, overflow structures, water harvesting structures etc. and carried out considering the expected runoff. Thus, it is essential to have various developmental programmes on watershed basis in conjunction with basic soil and water conservation measures. The developmental activities need to be taken up from ridge line to outlet point.
Watershed management programme in drylands is aimed at optimising the integrated use of land, water, vegetation in an area for providing an answer to alleviate drought, moderate floods, prevent soil erosion, improve water availability and increase food, fodder, fuel and fibre on sustained basis.
In watershed management, more specifically, soil conservation is enmeshed with crop management and alternate land use systems and allied agricultural activities such as animal husbandry, pisciculture, sericulture etc. for increasing and stabilising farm production and income.
Essay # 3. Principles of Watershed Management:
Main principles of watershed management based on resource conservation, resource generation and resource utilisation are:
1. Utilising the land based on its capability.
2. Protecting fertile top soil.
3. Minimising silting up of tanks, reservoirs and lower fertile lands.
4. Protecting vegetative cover throughout the year.
5. In situ conservation of rain water.
6. Safe diversion of surface runoff to storage structures through grassed water ways.
7. Stabilisation of gullies and construction of check dams for increasing ground water recharge.
8. Increasing cropping intensity through inter and sequence cropping.
9. Alternate land use systems for efficient use of marginal lands.
10. Water harvesting for supplemental irrigation.
11. Ensuring sustainability of the ecosystem.
12. Maximising farm income through agricultural related activities such as dairy, poultry, sheep and goat farming.
13. Improving infrastructural facilities for storage, transport and agricultural marketing.
14. Setting up of small scale agro-industries.
15. Improving socio-economic status of farmers.
Essay # 4. Objectives of Watershed Management:
The term watershed management is nearly synonymous with soil and water conservation with the difference that emphasis is on flood protection and sediment control besides maximising crop production.
The basic objective of watershed management is thus meeting the problems of land and water use, not in terms of any one resource but on the basis that all the resources are interdependent and must, therefore, be considered together.
The watershed aims, ultimately, at improving standards of living of common people in the basin by increasing their earning capacity, by offering facilities such as electricity, drinking water, irrigation water, freedom from fears of floods, droughts etc.
The overall objectives of watershed development programmes may be outlined as:
1. Recognition of watersheds as a unit for development and efficient use of land according their land capabilities for production.
2. Flood control through small multipurpose reservoirs and other water storage structures at the head water of streams and in problem areas.
3. Adequate water supply for domestic, agricultural and industrial needs.
4. Abatement of organic, inorganic and soil pollution.
5. Efficient use of natural resources for improving agriculture and allied occupation so as to improve socio-economic conditions of the local residents.
6. Expansion of recreation facilities such as picnic and camping sites.
Essay # 5. Steps Involved in Watershed Management:
Soil and hydrologic factors assume significance since the elements involved largely determine as to whether the desired programme can be carried out or not. The portion of hydrolic cycle from the time water is received on land surface until it leaves the area as stream flow or is back in the atmosphere through evapotranspiration is the central core of control in watershed management.
Surface runoff depends on intensity, duration and amount of rainfall. Topography of land determines direction of runoff. Soil characters like intake capacity, moisture retentively etc., influence movement of water in the soil.
Runoff is influenced by length and degree of slope, vegetative cover etc. All these factors influencing water movement cannot be changed through management. However, some of these can be modified to achieve the aims of watershed management.
To start the programme in a systematic way, the following basic information is necessary:
1. Statistics of population and livestock.
2. Pattern of land ownership.
3. Topography, cropping systems and yield, and land capability for farming.
4. Data on rainfall, erosion problems and ground water.
5. Information on existing water sources like tanks, well etc.
6. Service facilities like schools, banks, input supply, market, health and veterinary facilities etc.
The following components must receive attention in any watershed developmental project:
1. Soil conservation measures.
2. Runoff harvest in storage structures and its recycling for protective irrigation.
3. Improving fuel, fodder and horticulture through alternate land use systems.
4. Optimal land use and cropping systems with appropriate technology.
5. Ground water recharge and development.
6. Efficient use of available water through proper field layouts, land shaping, levelling, lining of water courses and life-saving irrigation.
7. Development of livestock, poultry and other associated activities.
Crucial component of watershed development project is the organisation. Land use problems can only be tackled in close association with owners. As such local people should be involved in the project.
To promote such an interaction the size of watershed should be between 300-500 ha at micro level and a cluster of about 10 such watersheds could be managed by a single organisational unit. Watershed development agency at unit level may be an ideal organisation for implementing the project.
Essay # 6. Components of Watershed Management Programme:
Since watershed development is an inter-sectorial activity, different components have to be taken into consideration and addressed while undertaking watershed development.
1. Soil and water conservation.
2. Water harvesting.
3. Crop management.
4. Alternate land use systems.
1. Soil and Water Conservation:
These measures are aimed at improving soil moisture availability and surface water availability for supplemental irrigation. Conservation measures in arable lands can be broadly divided into three categories: permanent, semi-permanent and temporary.
These measures are for improving relief, physiography and drainage features of watershed aimed at controlling soil erosion, regulating surface runoff and reducing peak flow rates.
These are usually interbund treatments in conventionally bunded area. They are adopted to minimise the velocity of overland flow. Such measures may lost 2 to 5 years.
Small section/key line bunds of about 0.1 m2 across the slope at half of the vertical bund spacing can serve the purpose. They can be renovated once in 2-3 years depending on the necessity. Strip levelling of about 4 to 5 m strips of land above the bund across the major land slope help in reducing the velocity of surface flow.
One or two live beds of 2-3 m width on contour or on grade can also serve the purpose. Similarly one or two vegetative/live barriers of close growing grasses or legumes along the bund and at mid-length of slope can filter the runoff water or slow down overland flow. Khus grass is widely recommended as vegetative barrier.
These are simple treatments for in situ moisture conservation and needs remade or renovation every year. Simple practices like contour farming, compartmental bunding, broad bed and furrows, dead furrows and mulching have gained wide acceptance in the recent past.
2. Water Harvesting:
Farm ponds, check dams, percolation wells and minor tanks for water harvesting are effective not only for reducing erosion and storing excess water during peak periods of monsoon but also for improving ground water table and recharging the downstream wells.
3. Crop Management:
Location specific package of practices for dryland crops have been developed by dryland research centres and state agricultural universities for all the crops and cropping systems covering several aspects.
i. Crops and varieties to suit length of cropping season.
ii. Optimum seeding time.
iii. Fertiliser schedules and balanced use of plant nutrients for crops and cropping systems identified.
iv. Weed management and package of practices for aberrant weather.
v. Contingent crop planning.
4. Alternate Land Use Systems:
Most of uplands in watersheds are degraded to very low productive levels. Apart from being uneconomical for arable crops, such lands are causing serious imbalance in the ecosystem. For such lands, alternate land use systems, other than cropping, would be desirable. Such land use systems can lead to stability in production along with safety of environment.
Efficient watershed management programmes are likely to get tangible and intangible benefits provided, the farmers adopt developed appropriate technologies. However, experience has shown that many farmers do not show much enthusiasm for adopting these on account of several factors such as high initial investment, high operational and maintenance costs or high technical input requirement.
Though, the technology is quite suitable and simple, it is still unacceptable on account of socio-economic realities at ground level. On the other hand, farmers have evolved their own technologies based on experience, which are cost effective, simple and easy to operate and maintain. While these may be practical innovations, they may not be the best technological options for whole of the watershed taken as an integrated system.
Need for a Common Approach:
A need has been felt to bring about convergence and harmonization in the implementation of various watershed development projects. However, this has not been possible as the aims and objectives of these projects are different and the watershed approach has been adopted under these projects to achieve their varied objectives.
While some of these projects had a specialised focus resulting in special norms and delivery mechanisms geared to meet those needs, the six major projects/programmes, namely National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA), Watershed Development in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDSCA), Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP), Desert Development Programme (DDP), Integrated Wasteland Development Project (IWDP), Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) had elements of convergence and considerable common geographical area of operation. These programmes also account for about 70 per cent of funds and area under watershed programmes in the country.
The need for unification of the multiplicity of watershed development programmes within the framework of a single national initiative was felt in 2001. Consequently, the Planning Commission desired that the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) hold consultations with the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) to arrive at a common set of guidelines for watershed development.
It was agreed that watershed projects with a specific focus and unique characteristics such as Reclamation of Problem Soils (MoA) and Integrated Afforestation and Eco-Development Projects (MoEF) would require a different approach. The major watershed development projects viz., NWDPRA and WDSCA of MoA, DPAP, DDP, EAS and IWDP of MoRD would be considered for arriving at Common approach/principles.
While the mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture is to enhance production and productivity of rainfed areas through sustainable agricultural practices, the mandate of the Ministry of Rural development is development and maintenance of the natural resource base in rural areas for increased employment generation and improvement of socioeconomic conditions of rural poor on a micro-watershed basis.
A subcommittee has been constituted to formulate common approach/principles for implementation of the selected watershed development programmes of the two central ministries viz., Agriculture and Rural Development.
Mandate of the subcommittee is to examine existing guidelines of watershed development projects of the two Ministries in order to identify the convergence and commonalties in approach in respect of specific criteria for selection of rainfed areas for treatment, programme components interventions, institutional frame work and modalities of implementation.
The committee submitted its report in 2006. The committee suggested a National Authority for Development of Rainfed Areas (NAFDORA) be set up. To ensure success of the watershed development programme, the programme may be extended to a period of 8 years.
The size of watershed may be 4,000 to 10.000 ha as a cluster of mille-watersheds. Based on the report, NRAA was established in 2006. In 2008, the NRAA brought out common guidelines for watershed development programmes that are being implemented by different Ministries under Gol.
There is a focus on training, planning, monitoring and evaluation. Developmental activities have undergone a sea-change since fifties to the early part of this century. What is accepted now is development of dryland agriculture on watershed basis (ICAR 2009).
Among the criteria set by different agencies in selection of watershed areas, the common features are:
(i) The area shall be essentially rainfed with not more than 30 per cent under any form of irrigation.
(ii) Areas with limited drinking water may be considered on priority.
(iii) The area should be more ecologically and economically disadvantaged.
(iv) SC/ST dominant area should be preferred.
(v) Preference to depleted natural resource base area.
Essay # 7. Importance of People’s Participation in Watershed Management:
As human beings and their activities are the cause of environmental destruction, it is only they who can restore to health the ruined environment. Hence, there can be no sustainable natural resources management unless it involves the participation of all the inhabitants of the concerned environment/area in an active manner.
Importance of people’s participation in watershed management for its success is summarized:
a. There is a close relationship between the environment and the human community living within for its livelihood. When the economic condition of a community deteriorates, it leads to overexploitation and degradation of natural resources.
b. It is necessary for people to understand the relationship between their poverty and the degraded environment they live in.
c. Environmental regeneration is possible only when the concerned people realise a need for it and are empowered to have control over the process of resource utilisation, management and conservation.
d. As human beings and their activities are the primary cause of environmental degradation, they can restore the health of the environment they have ruined by resetting their ways and activities towards the environment around. Hence, there can be no sustainable natural resource management unless it involves the participation of all inhabitants of the concerned environment/area in an active manner.