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The environmental and socio-economic contribution of palm geotextiles to sustainable development and soil conservation


Palm leaf geotextiles offer considerable potential to contribute to global sustainable development and soil conservation. It is postulated that in the humid tropics, their use would promote sustainable and environmentally- friendly palm agriculture, labour -intensive employment, SME development and earn hard currency. In the industrialized world, they may assist the stabilization of complex slopes. The Project will test geotextile mats made from the leaf of 'Borassus aethiopum' and structurally-similar speci es in field and laboratory conditions, to evaluate their long-term effectiveness in controlling soil erosion and to assess their sustainability and socio- economic viability. Postulated benefits: a) For Sustainable Development in Developing Countries: i. T he promotion of sustainable and environmentally-friendly palm agriculture, in which farmers also profit from the palm geotextiles. As a potentially profitable technique, it will discourage deforestation and promote both reforestation and agroforestry. The technique may help conserve soil and water and improve soil. There are particular benefits for peri-urban gully stabilization and reclamation. These gullies threaten human life, safety and property. ii. Construction of palm geotextiles will develop into a rural based labour-intensive industry, particularly encouraging the employment of socially-disadvantaged groups, such as women, elderly and disabled people. This will in turn contribute to the stabilization of rural populations and SME development. iii. Ex port of completed palm geotextiles to industrialized countries will earn hard-currency and promote development based on the principles of fair trade. b) For Industrialized Countries: Palm geotextiles will benefit soil and water conservation in complex engi neering problems (building and road construction), agriculture and coastal defence.

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