An achievement of sustainability demands a better understanding of plant-soil relationships as agriculture remains a primary activity to sustain a growing human population. 'Mechanisms of Landscape Rehabilitation and Sustainability' by Valentin Kefeli and Winfried Blum (Narcin Palavan-Unsal, Editor) fulfill this objective through a comprehensive presentation, which is articulated in four parts, and twenty-two chapters (Pp. 191). Initially, the authors present soil as a component of the biosphere. Such an important resource deserves special attention as topsoil loss undermines food security, on a global scale. Thus, the need to develop more sustainable land management practices is predicated and approaches to 'construct' soil from renewable biomass becomes an interesting aspect, which is presented at the beginning of the book.
Part two elaborates a step further on practices aimed at rehabilitating soil through what the authors call "a fabricated soil'. Emphasis to this effort is given to microbial activities as bacteria and fungi play fundamental roles in sustaining life within a soil system. These biocenoses are conducive to a stabilization of the soil organic matter. As the humification process leads to the mineralization of carbon rich macromolecules, and as the cycle of plant, nutritional elements is completed, allowing nutrient uptake by the root systems of the plant community.
Part three presents plant physiological processes like growth, photosynthesis and hormones interactions and how these interact with the soil. Chapter 17 can be of particular interest to readers who wish to better understand the implications of phenomena like allelopathy in the cultivated field. The success strategy to overcome soil-sickness appears to be linked to the compelling need of increasing biodiversity in the soil and this can be achieved by diversifying the biomass employed to make a fabricated soil.
The concluding part of the volume (Part four) connects soil and plants with water and the hydrologic water cycle. Plants are at the interface between lithosphere and atmosphere and thus the stability of plant communities play a vital role for maintaining the equilibria of terrestrial ecosystems. However, plants are also employable to recycle polluted water and wetland construction and maintenance inspire readers to want to learn more about this practical application and use of plants. The conclusion section illustrates briefly the authors' breadth and depth of knowledge of plant biology, soils and applied ecology. Their effort to connect several sciences together in a language that is easily understandable should be commended. This book can be of use to the professional practitioner (e.g. ecological engineer, restorationist, landscape architect and others) and also to students of biology and life applied sciences.
Professor Bruno Borsari
The conception of landscape rehabilitation is based on the investigation of natural processes, which proceed in the soil and in the plants. Authors of this book not only describe the soil function but also their ideas on sustainability and regeneration of the eco-sphere elements and human participation in these processes.
Homo sapiens, during their further evolution, need to develop both an understanding and a practical means to protect themselves against mechanisms of self-degradation. As integral parts of the Earth's ecosystem, intelligence demands that humans protect and maintain the various functions of the primary biosphere cycles so as to prevent the loss of soil and desertification, the pollution of air and water, the formation and expansion of the hole in Earth's ozone layer, the reduction of biodiversity, and global warming. The evidence is formidable that these harmful processes are the results of human activity in the industrial age.
This book presents discoveries and proposals that have emerged from the authors' research and experimentation on ways to protect Earth's ecosystems against further degradation. These proposals are founded on the philosophy of sustainable development and its application to various aspects essential to the long-term success of human beings: community coexistence, education, water purification and recycling, agriculture, the production of fabricated soil for landscape rehabilitation, and the preservation and propagation of wild flora. Strategies for both indoor and outdoor systems are covered in this publication.
Any conception of alternative technologies presupposes the integration of information which makes human life healthier and more in harmony with other species and elements of the biosphere. In nature, both small and large cycles exist for the turnover of elements and substances. Human activity often results in the degradation and sometimes the complete breakdown of these cycles, which leads to the accumulation of wastes and pollution of the biosphere. Therefore, the search for alternative forms of energy is urgent for the healthy development of human communities. Humans use non-renewable forms of energy which are located mostly in the lithosphere. This brings about the pollution of air by carbon dioxide and the pollution of water and soil by substances such as iron, aluminum and organic residues. Such ecological degradation modifies the normal succession of biological species and results in a reduction of biodiversity. Contamination of soil and desertification lead to the destruction of the soil ecocommunities (a loss of about 20 million hectares per year). The creation of new super-productive forms of crops leads to the leaching of high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Human communities need to search for new paradigms for living and for ways to integrate human activities into the natural biological cycles of the biosphere. This is the only way to ensure the continuation of our species on this planet. The modeling of such alternative approaches is described in this book.
In general all chapters deal with restorations of biospheric cycles which are uncoupled during the human activity. Therefore this book deals with subjects from molecular biology to human ecology and covers such kind of main subjects like botany, plant physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, soil science, human behavior in the ecosystem. Due to human activity in the discovery of phytohormones and chemical regulators, it was possible to help people achieve the highest of the crop. Ideas of molecular biology in the combination of plant science help now to get the highest productivity of the crops. In the same time, in order to protect soils against destruction, authors proposed unique mechanisms of the application of fabricated soil for landscape rehabilitation.
This book will be of particular interest to biologists, soil scientists, ecologists, agronomists, architects and students of colleges and universities.
Dr. Narcin Palavan-Unsal
Istanbul Kultur University
List of Contributors
Dr. Narcin P.-Unsal
Istanbul Kultur University
Dr. Valentin Kefeli
Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition
Dr. Winfried Blum
University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna