But the problem appears when we try to change these natural cycles and expect a steady crop production or sufficient pasture for livestock from these lands all year long. Duanyang Xu, Xiaogang You, Chunlin Xia, Assessing the spatial-temporal pattern and evolution of areas sensitive to land desertification in North China, Ecological Indicators, 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.10.005, 97, (150-158), (2019). Loss of biodiversity: animals and plants cannot live in a desert. Climate change, bad management of scarce resources, weak political structure only lead to hunger, which in turn gives rise to conflicts. Land degradation due to urbanization has affected strongly many countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Spain and other places with hot climate, where urban and tourist areas spread along the rivers or coastlines, sealing these lands and pushing farming away onto marginal lands, which will only accelerate their desertification over the time . Therefore, planting trees in the affected areas not only prevents desertification but also fights against additional environmental issues. Also Know, what impact does desertification have on humans? Superb Article . Do we have so much free land available that we do not need to be concerned about this? Causes and effects of environmental degradation in Bangladesh. Forests are being cut down at much larger scale than ever before, to be used as fuel, to provide products we use in our daily life, or to simply create more space for agriculture to sustain growing human population. The areas that have been subject to deforestation in the past should be considered for reforestation. As mentioned previously, grasses and other perennial plants also prevent water runoff by slowing it down and promoting rainwater infiltration into soils. Also read: How Melting Arctic Permafrost Can Lead To More COVID-Like Pandemics In Future About the Author: Soumi Lahiri, a law student who thrives on making this world a better place not only for humans but also for all the co-existing organisms on earth. Trees and other forms of vegetation are vital in protecting the soil and evaporating water … It is caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities. Extended droughts, prolonged flooding or sudden extreme changes in temperature can deplete food sources of species causing starvation. These factors include very high birth rates and thus expansion of agriculture into unsuitable areas, uncontrolled tree cutting for a fuel, all connected with effects of climate change and bad government policies. In many cases, increased water runoff from desertified areas wreaks havoc on neighboring lands, eroding soils, damaging vegetation and making soils extremely vulnerable to encroaching desert. Deforestation is one of the leading human causes of desertification. The immediate cause of desertification is the loss of most vegetation. Desertification is the degradation process by which a fertile land changes itself into a desert by losing its flora and fauna, this can be caused by drought, deforestation, climate change, human activities or improper agriculture. This can cost a lot of money to try and do, so many farmers will have to sell their land and leave the desert areas. With plants dying, already scarce rainwater gets washed away instead of being drawn into the soil, which only scales up the problem as remaining plants do not have enough moisture to survive dry spells as they used to. All that is left of the lake is just a large salt desert. Many African countries, especially in the Sahel area, are experiencing insecurity that only gets worse and worse every year. Unless climate change is slowed down, huge areas of land will become desert; some of those areas may even become uninhabitable as time goes on. In developing countries, education is an incredibly important tool that needs to be utilized in order to help people to understand the best way to use the land that they are farming on. In November 2016, Guardian published an article with the title “We have been almost buried: the Sudanese villages being swallowed by sand.” The article goes on describing the struggles of villages in Sudan’s River Nile State that have succumbed to desertification after years of extensive deforestation and worsening droughts. Without the plants (especially the trees) around, the rest of the biome cannot thrive. Some farmers do not know how to use the land effectively. After some time, no vegetation remains to prevent soil from blowing or washing away. In turn, many farmers may lose their livelihood, since they often solely rely on farming as their single source of income. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as they often lack the skills that are needed for urban jobs. Loose soil buries plants or exposes their roots to the sun, so they cannot fulfill their function. And globally, the risk of losing more land is getting higher with increasing summer temperatures and less frequent and erratic rain patterns we are experiencing in the last years. The health impacts of desertification and drought [pdf, 1.3 Mb] Review. If their land becomes arid, they may no longer be able to provide sufficient crop yields to make a living out of it. According to expert opinions from FAO and UN, this high level of land loss to desertification is what has triggered a civil war in the country. The official definition by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) that has been widely used since it’s formulation in 1994 is: “desertification is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic fluctuations and human activities.” UNCCD also highlights that it is important to note that desertification is not a natural process of deserts expanding to new regions, it is a form of land degradation caused primarily by human activity in vulnerable areas. Our planet’s ecosystems sustain life only when balanced. The bare soil then easier dries out and turns to dust, which can be blown and washed away in a single storm. Overpopulation and excessive consumption, 9. Over drafting is the process in which groundwater is extracted in excess of the equilibrium yield of the aquifer that is pumping or the excessive pulling up of groundwater from underground aquifers. Forests are being chopped down at an alarming rate, leading to massive desertification in various regions of the planet. By adding these to what we should be doing with land, we can ensure that we don’t turn the entire world into a desert. Bad things like prolonged episodes of famine, diseases from water scarcity, fights for thinning resources and death of people, children, animals. Mining often implies the destruction of large areas of land. 10 Facts About Desertification. In general, the destruction of habitats and desertification may also contribute to a loss of biodiversity. Examples of civilizations that met their doom due to droughts include the Carthage Civilization, the Harappan Civilization, people groups in Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and people groups in Ancient China . Therefore it should be regulated by governments to keep the nature reserves intact and protect the natural habitats of many animals and plants. This means that the original ecosystem of these lands is well-adapted to withstand dry seasons during which plants enter so called summer dormancy, a temporary cessation of growth, in order to preserve themselves, only to turn green and strong as soon as rains come again. One region of the world that has seen many of these negative effects combined is Sub-Saharan Africa. The cause may vary from region to region on account of economic conditions, population pressure, agricultural practices, and … Compared with the data from 1920s, Sahara has already expanded by 10 percent. You can read the whole story here to get a better understanding about the situation in this developing country and reasons why preventing desertification gets difficult in some areas. Furthermore, through the use of unsustainable irrigation techniques, salt concentration can also rise in many cultivated soils, rendering the soil useless for growing crops or other plants. percent . Without food and water, it becomes harder for people to thrive, and they take a lot of time to try and get the things that they need. Because of ambitious cotton farming projects in the dry Aral Sea basin that needed irrigation. And try to do everything in our power to help protect natural resources we have. Unfortunately, desertification is a proof that in some places, we have reached this tipping point. Causes of Desertification. Now that we know what causes desertification, here are five of its effects – all of them are negative. As you may have noticed, desertification problems are often related and lead to one another. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem.”. Some causes of desertification are natural, whilst others are human derived. UNCCD estimates that advancing desertification could displace globally 50 million people in the next 10 years . What is the key to their success?https://t.co/179Z5AnYTw pic.twitter.com/Qw7hXuBBQK. The main causes of desertification include: Population growth - the population in some desert areas is increasing. There have been many records of water scarcity and pollution problems that are linked to desertification or other forms of land degradation across dry African and Asian countries. Scientists have, for example, confirmed that overgrazing is the primary reason why around 70 percent of the once pasture rich Mongolian steppe is slowly overtaken by the Gobi Desert now. #1 Overgrazing Overgrazing and desertification have been always closely linked together. As cities expand, more land in the vicinity is used for the development projects. By the time most of the natural resources have been extracted, and mining practices are no more profitable, the soil gets damaged significantly, and the land becomes arid, which may not be recoverable, and desertification occurs. There are some cases where the land gets damaged because of natural disasters, including drought. The region currently faces extensive desertification caused by numerous factors. (And 10 Ways to Reuse Egg Shells), Pentagon Report Reveals US Military Bases To Also Come Under The Purview Of Climate Change Catastrophe, Savanna Biome: Location, Climate, Temperature, Soil, Plants and Animals, Various Human Activities That Affect an Ecosystem, Why are Forests Important and 20+ Unbelievable Reasons For Loss of Forests, Can You Recycle Propane Tanks? It occurs because of man-made activities and climate change. We are working hard to improve our content. ), Can You Recycle Lotion Bottles? Majority of those who are affected the most by this problem are as usual the world’s poorest nations where people struggle daily with the direct impacts of climate turning against them, and deserts claiming more of their already scarce soils. These are huge numbers and huge level of dependency upon these lands that should not fail us. Causes of Desertification: 1. Desertification is whereby the lands become infertile and bare, frequently as a result of overgrazing and is exacerbated by drought which makes it difficult for such lands to recover. While desertification certainly leads to these problems, they can also be its cause. Desertification makes natural disasters worse because it reduces natural resilience of ecosystems. Desertification affects topsoil, groundwater reserves, … Human hands or natural occurrences can exacerbate or spark desertification. Besides constantly eroding soils by creating gullies and channels each time it rains, water also picks up loosen soil particles and transports them into water bodies. This results in serious migration movements. Populations move to find land that can provide the food and water they need. When areas start to become desert, animals and people will go to other areas where they can actually thrive. WMO also coordinates the efforts of Members for drought preparedness and teaches them how to stop desertification caused by droughts. Desertification comes about by a complex interaction between the natural environment and human activities. With a changing ecosystem, species must adapt to their new climate or migrate to a more favorable climate. By taking that critical look at desertification, we have the tools that we need in order to get through the processes effectively. Desertification has destroyed even lives of nomadic Bedouins and farmers in Syria. The following are some of the primary causes of desertification in our world. Formerly, the second largest lake in Bolivia filled with diversity of fish and birds had completely dried up just in the span of three years, 2014 to 2017. The desertification implies the destruction of the livelihood of farmers. Greentumble’s writer Deogracias has described how is the problem of deforestation linked to the livelihood of some people in his country, Malawi. Read more about us. We already have the statistics for the future: the growth percentages of pollution, overpopulation, desertification. Deforestation is one of the leading human causes of desertification. Animals will also go hungry, which will cause even more of a food shortage. (And Can You Sell Them? In dry regions, grass and other small vegetation is necessary to keep the soil in place to prevent erosion and further damage to the soil. When the trees and other vegetation in an area are gone, there are no roots that would hold soils in place, there is no canopy that would shield the ground from the direct rainfall or from the sun’s heat. Water scarcity in drylands limits the production of wood, crops, forage, and other services that ecosystems provide to our community. Causes Of Land Desertification. The policy changes could be sweeping or they could be depending on the type of land use at hand. The use of excessive amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to maximize their crop yields in the short term often leads to significant damages for the soil. If an area becomes a desert, then it’s almost impossible to grow substantial crops there without special technologies. Salt buildup on cultivated lands, then, makes it difficult for crops and other plants to grow, further exacerbating degradation of these lands. Also, due to desertification, the soil becomes unsuitable for agriculture, and there may be a huge loss of food. Higher the level of pollution more will be the degradation of soil over time. But trying to provide for more people easily results in overexploitation of available resources, even if unwillingly. Soil erosion is often one of the final steps that closes the loop of continual soil deterioration that is difficult to revert. What remains left is only a lifeless pile of dust instead of a life-giving medium. ), Can You Recycle Trophies? In dry regions, grass and other small vegetation is necessary to keep the soil in place to prevent erosion and further damage to the soil. Flooding is not the only problem, sand storms are another big issue, mainly because wind-blown particles (including those that are polluted) can travel long distances and cause health problems to people even in distant urban areas. A major effect of desertification is the decrease in crop yields. Desertification, in short, is when land that was of another type of biome turns into a desert biome because of changes of all sorts. The Causes of Desertification. Some of these families then end up living in poverty in slums. This process can happen due to a number of reasons, but much of the desertification that is occurring around the world today is caused by human activity, such as deforestation or improper agricultural methods. Countries affected by desertification do not have to be located only in hot regions of the world because it is the local climate and land use that shape the health of the land. There are some ways that we can go back and rehabilitate the land that we’ve already pushed into desertification; it just takes some investment of time and money. Desertification may alter the living conditions of the local flora and fauna that makes it impossible for animals and plants to sustain their populations. When people gather and keep too many animals in one area, grasses start dying because their roots are often weakened by animals constantly stepping on them and plucking out newly re-growing parts before plants have time to grow resistant enough and to multiply. There have been numerous cases when overgrazed areas of land became severely damaged. Their loss to buildings and other infrastructure is, therefore, rather wasteful. Why Is Biodiversity Important to Ecosystems. The Eurocentric view of … But Collobrative effort s are needed especially from the powerful nations of the world leaving behind their egotism. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe. Policy Changes to Other Types of Land Use, 6. Endangerment and Extinction of Species, 1. 30 million acres) more turn into barren deserts every year [1,2]. Desertification is caused by a combination of factors that change over time and vary by location. In many instances, these people go to larger cities, hoping for better life by finding a new livelihood. Land desertification, species extinction and climate transformation, these three problems all are a long term problem to the world. These migrations into the cities often cause large numbers of unemployed people, who end up living in slums. This is exactly what has been happening in the Sahel. If an area of land has natural resources like natural gas, oil, or minerals, people will come and mine it or take it out. Overgrazing is the major cause of desertification worldwide. If they fail to do so, they will become extinct for their inability to cope with a sudden change of their environment. The Aral Sea used to be the world’s fourth largest saline lake until 1960s, when the Soviet government diverted the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, which have been feeding the lake with fresh water. Addresses the land issues identified by UNEP regional groups, and highlights the pressures of human demands on the land resource as the cause of land degradation. This usually strips the soil of nutrients, which in turn kills the plant life, and eventually leads to the process of becoming a desert biome as time goes on. Oxygen Levels of Oceans Are Decreasing At An Alarming Rate [Recent Study], 4. According to model simulations ran by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the end of the Mayan empire probably happened due to prolonged droughts caused by cutting down the rainforest to expand their cities and plant crops to feed their growing population . As “harsh” as this may sound, the reason is very simple. Our entire life support system depends on the well-being of … If an area becomes a desert, the water quality is going to become a lot worse than it would have been otherwise. Urbanization, logging, mining, overgrazing, alterations in soil moisture, air pollution, fires, chemical pollution, and leaching out of minerals all damage or destroy soils. So much could be written about the effects of climate change on the health of our lands, as climate change can lead to land degradation for many reasons, and it is very often climate change that exacerbates the progress of desertification in increasingly many places. Overgrazing has become a problem that has escalated into an ecological and agricultural collapse in the country. The world’s drylands cover approximately 40 percent of the total land mass. They may essentially strip the land of everything that it has before moving on to another plot of land. Desertification reduces the ability of land to support plant life. The loss of land to desertification has major impact on many places on our planet today and is expected to affect humanity even more in the future as population numbers will grow bigger and the availability of natural resources will decline. These pollutants then remain deposited in the soil or wash off into rivers, creeks or lakes. A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. The loss of fertile land to desertification has brought an end to many majestic civilizations throughout the human history. Without plant life in an area, flooding is a lot more imminent. By putting these together, we can prevent the issue from becoming even more widespread in the areas that have already been affected. Boko Haram is believed to constitute of young people deprived of livelihood possibilities due to constant disputes over disappearing water among diverse ethnic groups, inhabiting the area . In drier areas, the experience is even worse as a large percentage of pasture and land cover is destroyed, contributing to the relentless progression of desertification. Flooding can also negatively affect the water supply, which we will discuss next. In some cases, it’s difficult to try and prevent desertification from happening. The environment (the Earth) is the place we call home. Increased salinity happens because irrigation water mobilizes naturally occurring salt in these soils. This is driven by a number of factors – alone or in combination – such as overgrazing, deforestation, farming (mal )practices , urbanization, land 'development', climate change, exploitation of land resources, natural disasters and population growth. Other causes can be as simple … The document further goes on examining the serious and complex web of problems that have arisen from worsening land degradation of the earth’s drylands, which are home to 2,000 million people, comprise of 44 percent of all the world’s cultivated land and should sustain 50 percent of the world’s livestock .
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