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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I received an email from Yoann Copin in Madagascar who is working with a large mining operation. He would like to know if anyone has had experience stopping/slowing soil erosion using either lawn grasses or bamboo. I would like to ask the network, and your newsletter, read by a large number of people with experience in erosion control, might be able to provide an answer.

The following is his statement:
“The mining operation in question will be the largest in the world to date. It will displace a huge amount of soil to reach an important mineral deposit. The consortium will excavate the soil that contains the mineral, mix it with water and slosh the sludge through a huge to be constructed duct down from the mid-plateau region of Madagascar to the East coastal (160 km) port of Tomasina where the slurry will be separated; the extracted mineral hauled off to other countries, while billions of tons of slurry will be spread about in nearby mountain range. So much for the environmental impact! The same company a year or so ago asked a guy to put in vetiver on a newly bared slope to prevent erosion. Unfortunately, the person was inexperienced and did the Vetiver Network a huge disfavor. The job was poorly executed; spacing too large and many of the plants died or were washed away. As the project is getting on and the company is scrambling for solutions, they don’t want to hear about vetiver, claiming it does not work and have closed the door. They have hired a large firm that has convinced them to use lawn grasses and bamboo. Our Vetiver Network guy who was working on a very successful vetiver application for mining project in the South of the country ( when the call for tender was issued, and only found about the catastrophic application after it had failed) needs to find proof that compared with the Vetiver System, specialized lawn grasses (one variety must be from South Africa) and bamboo, which are “known and proven plants” can’t do the heavy soil retention that vetiver can.

What we are looking for is any research, experiences and testimonies of applications of any lawn grass or bamboo to stop/slow soil erosion.”

Criss Juliard, The Vetiver Network (International), Morocco.


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