evil of sluits: A re-assessment of soil erosion in the Karoo of South Africa as portrayed in century-old sources | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2013
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

Deep, linear gullies are a common feature of the present landscape of the Karoo of South Africa, where they were known locally in the early twentieth century as ‘sluits’. Recent research has shown that many of these features are now stable and are no longer significant sediment sources, although they are efficient connectors in the landscape. Because most of the gully networks predate the first aerial photographs, little is known in the scientific literature about the timing of their formation. One secondary source, however, throws interesting light on the origin of these features, and the early response by landowners to their rehabilitation. The Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope at the turn of the Twentieth Century carried a number of articles by farmers and agricultural officers concerning the “evil of sluits”. The authors gave accounts of widespread incision of valley bottoms by deep, wide gullies. Many of these gullies had been in existence for some thirty years but apparently had formed within living memory. A number of attempts to prevent further erosion had been put in place at the time of writing. This paper presents a review of land degradation, specifically gully erosion, and rehabilitation recommendations as given by authors writing in this journal. It reflects on the findings in the context of assessing land degradation processes through the local knowledge portrayed in the journal.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Rowntree, K.M.


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