Desertification

In this module, you will gain a deeper understanding of the process of desertification, a very critical process that is quite harmful to our world. In order to avoid it, we must first know the meaning of desertification and what causes it to occur. Here are the key points that you will learn from this module:

  • The detailed definition of desertification.
  • The effects of desertification on humans.
  • The causes of desertification.
  • The ways to prevent desertification.
  • Friendly advice regarding the preservation of the environment.

Desertification widely affects millions of people around the world. When fertile land undergoes this process, it turns into a literal desert: dry ground, scarce water, and a lack of vegetation.

Desertification

The livelihoods of local people in those regions are affected because of the destruction of plant life that leads to loss of agricultural income and depletion of food resources. It can also impact the climate of that particular area, leading to altered air quality and a change of rainfall patterns.

Furthermore, desertification can have other effects on nature and humans:

  • It can cause soil erosion that eventually leads to landslides.
Soil erosion
  • It can cause permanent damage to the soil which makes it unsuitable for growing plants and root crops.
  • It can cause natural disasters like flash floods and severe dust storms. These dust storms can cause serious health problems like fever, coughing, sore eyes, and even tuberculosis.
Flashflood
  • It can worsen pollution because there are no trees and plants to filter the dirt in the air.
  • There may be a scarcity in the source of drinking water because vegetation is necessary for the filtration of water.

Even worse, desertification doesn’t just affect the local land. Its effects can extend up to several kilometers away from the immediately affected area. It’s an issue that has to be addressed, even if it doesn’t seem like a direct threat to local populations.

Water pollution

So what causes fertile land to experience desertification?

There are a variety of factors behind desertification. It can be a natural phenomenon, such as a very dry climate because of very little precipitation that will eventually result in drought. Or, it can be the result of human carelessness toward the environment, such as deforestation or poor agriculture choices, like overgrazing.

Here are other causes of desertification:

  • Overpopulation – this is pretty self-explanatory. The more people that reside in an area, the more resources are required, like food and water; also, sufficient waste disposal becomes a problem.
Overpopulation
  • Chemicals – harmful chemicals can kill off plant life.
  • Waste – Improper waste disposal can compromise the soil’s health.
Waste disposal
  • Consumption – Reckless cutting of trees or hunting can be very dangerous to a region’s ecosystem.

How to prevent desertification?

Preventing desertification is vital, especially in countries or regions that have a climate that is particularly hot. Preventative measures are important because once desertification strikes an area, it is very hard to reverse its effects. Here are some preventive measures that you can take:

  • Maintain the plants’ habitat by doing the following:
    • Stop the use of poor irrigation methods.
    • Manage the balance of animals and plants in a certain area, because overcrowded animals can cause overgrazing. Segregate different species of animals in a specific place to avoid this, especially if a large percentage of animals in that area are grass eaters.
    • Stop unnecessary cutting down of trees and excessive exploitation of plants.
  • Whenever possible, relocate trees, and if cutting down trees can’t be avoided, plant another one somewhere else.
Trees
  • Learn to protect the area of vegetation.
  • Use natural methods and techniques in farming instead of artificial ones which can be harmful to the soil.
Farming
  • Reduce pressure in the drylands by opening opportunities in urban places.
  • Plant trees in order to maintain vegetation.
Trees
  • If possible, do artificial clouding to help moisturise the soil and avoid the loss of certain plants and trees in an area due to drought.
Artificial cloud
  • Educate the younger generation about the environment to ensure better environmental management in the future.
  • Provide a good program for waste management because improper waste disposal can cause soil degradation.
Waste management
  • Build factories at a safe distance from forests and vegetation to avoid spills and the spread of chemicals that can compromise the plants’ habitat.

With all this information, you are now aware that desertification is a serious issue that affects our whole society. We must all do our part in our local areas in order to prevent it. Our food, water, and other basic needs all come from our environment and it is therefore of utmost importance that we protect and nurture it.

Irrigation

Although there are some parts of the world that are already affected by desertification, those governments and people who live there can work to minimize its effects by taking the right actions for their environment. Though experts warn that once it happens, it is irreversible, there is no harm in trying to fight desertification at every level. The measures that we can all take may gradually help us reduce the effects of desertification around the world.

Image sources:
  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GR1220001_Desertification_jeanajean2.jpg
  2. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Traffic_jam_on_Phu_Nhuan_district.JPG
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Deforestation#/media/File:Lacanja_burn.JPG
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Texas_Army_National_Guard_Hurricane_Harvey_Response.jpg
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Large_Landslide_in_Uganda.jpg
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Water_Pollution_with_Trash_Disposal_of_Waste_at_the_Garbage_Beach.jpg
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diesel_pump_irrigation.jpg
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GREEN_FIBER_CUTTING.jpg
  9. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coffee-cherry-picker-san-marcos-tarrazu-costa-rica.jpg
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_seeding
  11. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E-Waste_Recycling_(7027059003).jpg
  12. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stout_Memorial_Grove_in_Jedediah_Smith_Redwoods_State_Park_in_2011_(22).JPG