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What Is Desertification? Where Is It Happening?

What Is Desertification? Where Is It Happening?

Desertification is soil degradation in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas caused by different factors, such as climatic variations and human activities. It has its origin in physical, biological, political, social, cultural and economic factors. It is directly related to poverty, health, malnutrition, lack of food security and migration.

The UN, which has been fighting desertification since 1994, defines it as the process of land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid zones as a result of various climatic and human factors. With climate change, these factors have only multiplied and today it is considered one of the main environmental problems of the planet.

Source: Flickr

What Is Desertification

Desertification is the process by which vegetation decreases and finally disappears in dry areas —that is, in arid and semi-arid lands, such as grassland or scrub areas. The concept does not refer to the physical expansion of existing deserts, but to the various processes that threaten to convert ecosystems that currently do not desert.

Human activities, such as deforestation and overexploitation of aquifers, among others, accelerate desertification. To this, we must add the effects of climate change, also driven by humans, and the destruction it causes in the form of extreme weather events, such as droughts, hurricanes, fires, etc.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to the UN, every year more than 24,000 million tons of fertile soil disappear. In fact, today two thirds of the Earth is immersed in a process of desertification and, if no measures are taken, by 2050 1.5 million km 2 of agricultural land will be lost, an area equivalent to all the arable land on the planet. India, which is essential to maintain biodiversity and feeding the population.

What Causes Desertification

Land degradation is affecting more than 3.2 billion people around the world, preventing them from enjoying a comfortable and peaceful life, and jeopardizing their food security.

  • Overgrazing
  • Unsustainable farming practices.
  • Deforestation.
  • Repetitive fires.
  • The introduction of exotic fauna and flora.
  • Oil use.
  • The increase in sheep production for the export of wool.
  • Inappropriate use of land and water.
  • Extreme natural events, such as volcanic eruptions.
  • Insufficient technology.

Where Is Desertification Taking Place?

Desertification hotspots include North Africa, Southeast Asia (including the Middle East, India, and China), Australia, and Latin America (Central and South America, plus Mexico).

Among these, Africa and Asia face the greatest threat, due to the fact that most of their land is dryland. In fact, these two continents are home to almost 60% of the world’s drylands, according to a report published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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