Vetiver grass: An amazing natural erosion defense

With the UNFCCC winding to a close in Nusa Dua, the subjects of global warming, pollution and erosion are all pushed to the fore. Every wet season in SE Asia torrential rains give rise to landslides that kill many people. These landslides are caused in part by logging and land clearing practices which leave the soil with nothing to hold it in place. One plant species that is advertised locally has the ability to help prevent these landslides.

Vetiver Grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is a fragrant grass related to Citronella and Lemon Grass. Originating from India, its root system can extend 2-4 meters into the soil providing stability. Vetiver is an environmentally friendly and sustainable solution for stopping land erosion and conserving soil and water.

Among its properties:
• Vetiver is a clump grass with sterile seeds and cannot become a weed.
• It is a perennial and permanent and only grows where you plant it.
• It forms a dense, permanent hedge preventing soil loss from runoff.
• It has a dense root system penetrating 2-4 meters.
• It grows in most soil types irrespective of nutrient status, pH, acid sulphate, salinity etc.
• It should not compete with plants it is protecting.

Sounds wonderful and one group providing it in Bali is the East Bali Poverty Project.

The East Bali Poverty Project introduced vetiver to East Bali in 2000 to stabilize the dry sandy soil, with great success. Local people are now able to use the slopes to plant vegetables and earn a living. There are nurseries in Denpasar and Karangasem.

Amazing stuff and there are probably many places in the world that could benefit from knowing about vetiver.

East Bali Poverty Project