Desertification: Definition and Causes.
Desertification is a phenomenon that ranks among the greatest environmental challenges of our time.
Yet most people haven’t heard of it or don’t understand it. It is an environmental degradation.
Although desertification can include the encroachment of sand dunes on land, it doesn’t refer to the advancement of deserts.
Rather, it is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by human activities — including unsustainable farming, mining, overgrazing and clear-cutting of land — and by climate change.
What Causes Desertification?
It occurs when:
- we remove the tree and plant cover that binds the soil. It occurs when we stripped away trees and bushes for fuel, wood and timber, or to clear land for cultivation.
- animals eat away grasses and erode topsoil with their hooves.
- intensive farming depletes the nutrients in the soil.
In addition, wind and water erosion aggravate the damage, carrying away topsoil and leaving behind a highly infertile mix of dust and sand.
It is the combination of these factors that transforms degraded land into desert. In short, they cause desertification!
Impact of Desertification
This is a global issue, with serious implications worldwide for biodiversity, eco-safety, poverty eradication, socio-economic stability and sustainable development.
In fact, drylands are already fragile. As they become degraded, the impact on people, livestock and environment can be devastating.
Some 50 million people may experience displacement within the next 10 years as a result of desertification.
The issue of desertification is not new though — it played a significant role in human history, contributing to the collapse of several large empires, and the displacement of local populations.
But today, the pace of arable land degradation estimates at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
Desertification and Poverty
Some two billion people depend on ecosystems in dry land areas, 90% of whom live in developing countries.
Many underdeveloped countries are creating a downward spiral where overpopulation causes pressure to exploit drylands for farming.
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These marginally productive regions experience overgrazing, the land is exhausted and groundwater is over drafted.
When our rural lands are unable to support the local population, the result is mass migrations to urban areas.
Moreover, increasing frequency and severity of droughts resulting from projected climate change is likely to further exacerbate desertification.
Now that you have understood what desertification is, just do this beautiful world a favour and PLANT TREES!