Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Human induced Land Degradation

Date: 02 September 2017 - 10 September 2017

Course Description


Human induced soil degradation is a very actual and increasing problem all over the world. Population growth, unsustainable management of natural resources as well as increasing amounts of harmful chemicals in the environment lead to severe land and soil degradation. The phenomenon of soil degradation has to be considered in a socio-ecological context with respect to economic, cultural and social conditions. In this course, we use an interdisciplinary approach to learn about the different syndromes of soil degradation in different countries of the world and their consequences for people and the environment. Furthermore, we look for solutions and sustainable management strategies.


The course is interactive, that means that students present a special soil degradation syn-drome that occurs in their home country, its effects on people and environment and work out possible methods for scientific research and practical solutions. Therefore, we get an over-view of the soil degradation phenomena in different countries and compare these with the syndromes present in Nepal. Discussions with stakeholders in affected areas in Nepal will lead to interdisciplinary visions of the situation and how possible solutions could be imple-mented in real live.

The main goals are:

  • Theory of the different soil threats and syndromes of soil degradation and their effects on people and the environment
  • Applying an intercultural and interdisciplinary approach to compare the syndromes in the different countries of the world, their consequences and possible prevention and remediation strategies
  • Practical experience with soil degradation and its consequences and designing solutions in Nepal
  • Learning to distinguish between theoretical and realistic solutions.

General information

Course levelIntermediate
Intended credits3.0 ECTS
Course frequencyonce a year
Course feePhD students from WIMEK / PE&RC / WASS: €750 
Others: €1250
Lecturer(s)Priv.Doz. Dr. Violette Geissen
Priv.Doz. Dr. Johannes Botschek
Prof. Dr. Coen Ritsema
Dr. Xiaomei Yang
FlyerFlyer 2017
RegistrationExpression of interest to participate via email: or 
Registration deadline   1 July 2017

Course programme

Preparation in Wageningen

28 June 2017
Students get a first introduction to the subject. Students form groups of 2-3 persons and select a topic. Students prepare an oral presentation (1 hour) and a short documentary film (10 min.) about chemical, physical or biological soil degradation in their home countries and remediation efforts.
The topics are related to the EU Soil Thematic Strategy (2006), actual description of soil deg-radation in Europe (, syndromes as consequences of soil degradation presented in “World in Transi-tion – threats of soils” (1994) and the WOCAT data base showing sustainable soil manage-ment approaches around the globe (
The presentations and the documentary films include the effects of soil degradation on envi-ronment and people, considering an interdisciplinary approach. Furthermore, students present possible problem solutions (either preventive and/or curative). Language of presentation: English.

15 August 2017

Students send their powerpoint presentation and the documentary film to the responsible professor.

Seminar and excursion to Nepal

  • 2 September: Travel to Nepal and arrival 
  • 3 September: Katmandu
  • 4-5 September: Seminar in Katmandu
  • 6-9 September: Excursions to regions with soil degradation problems
        - stakeholder meetings
        - problem description and solutions
  • 10 September: Flight back

Former occurrences of this course

  • 14-18 July 2014, Flyer 2014 (pdf)
  • 18-31 August 2011


Course Programme 2014


7 July 2014; 10-12 a.m., Atlas building, Wageningen

  • Introduction to the subject.
  • Students form groups of 2-3 persons and select a topic related to the syndromes presented in “World in Transition – threats of soils” (1994) and in the EU Soil Thematic Strategy (2007)

Preparation of the presentation and the report

7-8 July 2014

Students search literature and prepare an oral presentation (30 min.) about soil degradation including the effects on environment and people, and possible remediation/prevention strategies.

Seminar and excursion in Bonn, Germany

14-18 July 2014. Nussallee 13, Bonn, Germany

Monday 14 July
9:00 -10:00 Presentation of the group, Plan of the week, expectations of the participants
Violette Geissen: Introduction in the subject: Human induced soil degradation.
10:00-10:30 Johannes Botschek: Soil degradation in Europe
10.30-12:00 3 Students presentations
12:00–13:00 Break
13:00-14:00 N.N. from UNCCD: A tool for Sustainable Land Management
14:00-15:00 Discussion

Tuesday 15 July

Wednesday 16 July 
9:00-10:00 Violette Geissen: Sustainable Land Management Strategies
10:00-12:00 3 Students presentation and discussion
12:00-12:30 Jan Siemens: Soil pollution - a worldwide problem
12:30-13:30 Break
13:30-15:30 Students presentations
15:30-16:00 Discussion

Thursday  17 July
9:00–10:00 Coen Ritsema: The Desire project: Land degradation and sustainable management
10:00-12:00 3 Students presentation and discussion
12:00-13:00 Break
13:00-16:00 Students preparation of the possible experimental designs to study the soil degradation types and possible strategies and policies

Friday  18 July
9:00–13:00 Students Presentations: Possible experimental designs to study the soil degradation types and possible strategies and policies