WIT Press

Environment Management And Health Risks Of Soil Erosion Gullies In São Luís (Brazil) And Their Potential Remediation Using Palm-leaf Geotextiles


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WIT Press


A. Guerra, M. Marcal, H. Polivanov, R. Sathler, J. Mendonça, T. Guerra, F. Bezerra, M. Furtado, N. Lima, U. Souza, A. Feitosa, K. Davies, M. A. Fullen & C. A. Booth


Urban soil gully erosion in São Luís, Brazil, has resulted in loss of lives and properties. Environmental conditions (soil properties/use, rain regime, slope characteristics) associated with deforestation, brought on by irregular, unplanned and unauthorized urban settlement expansion (without basic urban infrastructure, especially sanitation, rain pipes and paved roads), has promoted land degradation and initiated gully formation. Therefore, understanding the factors that generate erosive processes, as well as the application of control measures and prevention, are fundamental actions for public safety. A novel control approach is the application of palm-mat geotextiles. These offer considerable potential to contribute to soil conservation, through sustainable and environmentally friendly palm agriculture. Ongoing field and laboratory research, in Europe, South America, Africa and SE Asia, is investigating geotextile mats manufactured from palm-leaves to evaluate their long-term effectiveness in controlling soil erosion and to assess their sustainability and economic viability. Palm-leaf geotextiles are novel and offer new bioengineering solutions to environmental problems, as temporary application of geotextiles allows sufficient time for plant communities to stabilize engineered slopes. Initial investigations suggest palm geotextiles are an effective, cheap and economically-viable soil conservation method, with tremendous potential. Palm geotextiles offer enormous multi-faceted environmental and socio-economic benefits, which include environmental education and local community involvement in reclamation and environmentalimprovement programmes that reduce local community health risks. Keywords: urban settlement, soil erosion, soil properties, deforestation.


urban settlement, soil erosion, soil properties, deforestation.