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Discuss the causes of desertification.

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Introduction

Desertification Desertification, term applied to land degradation in dry lands resulting mainly from adverse human impact. "Land" in these terms includes soil and local water resources, the land surface and vegetation or crops, while degradation implies a reduction of resource potential. Desertification has subsequently been recognized as one of a series of processes that affect dry lands all over the world. These processes include water erosion and wind erosion, as well as sedimentation by those agents, long-term reduction in the amount or diversity of natural vegetation, and salinization and sodication. Desertification was arguably the first environmental issue to be recognized as taking place on a global scale, a recognition that was formalized at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Desertification, held in Nairobi in 1977. CAUSES OVER GRAZING So-called "overgrazing" is a result of too much livestock being kept on a given area of pasture resulting in the loss of edible species and the consequent encouragement of inedible species. ...read more.

Middle

The collection of fuel wood from urban hinterlands in the Sahel, the most severely affected region, has resulted in the almost total loss of trees around major cities. Examples include Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Dakar (Senegal), while the radius of the treeless zone around Khartoum in Sudan is 90 km (56 mi). SALINIZATION Salinization is one of the clearest examples of human-induced desertification, affecting about one-fifth of all irrigated cropland in Australia and the United States, and one-third in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria. The proportion is one-half in Iraq. Excessive concentrations of salts in irrigated soils adversely affect crop yields and can ultimately kill plants. SAHEL Sahel a region in western Africa, forming a transition zone between the arid Sahara on the north and the wetter tropical areas to the south. The Sahel runs from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even long-lived plants that would normally survive droughts die. A reduction in plant cover also results in a reduction in the quantity of humus and plant nutrients in the soil, and plant production drops further. As protective plant cover disappears, floods become more frequent and more severe. Desertification is self-reinforcing, i.e. once the process has started, conditions are set for continual deterioration. STEPS TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION Many organizations have been formed to try and combat desertification. One project is the Eden Project, by the Eden Foundation. The Eden Foundation has a field station loca ted in Niger (North Western Africa), which is researching different ways of revegetating land. Two ways The Eden Foundation has found of revegetating land are direct seeding and natural revegetation. Desertification is becoming a problem that is drawing a lot of attention. One of the larger responses to it seems to be the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), which has been joined by many countries. Although it is extremely lengthy in description, it is very vague and general. ...read more.

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