Deserts have naturally formed throughout geological time. But, there are some natural causes of desertification as numerous scientific studies have recently focused on the potential effects of human activities, poor land management, deforestation, and climate change on desertification.
Simply put, desertification is the process through which land that was once part of one type of biome transforms into a desert biome due to various factors. The fact that there are significant areas of land undergoing the process of desertification is a major problem faced by many nations.
Topsoil, groundwater supplies, surface runoff, and animal, plant, and human populations are all impacted by desertification. The production of timber, food, pasture, and other services that ecosystems supply to our community is constrained by the lack of water in drylands.
The data are already available for the future: the growth percentages of pollution, overpopulation, and desertification. The future is already in place. – Gunther Grass
According to UNESCO, desertification threatens one-third of the earth’s land area and has an impact on millions of people around the world whose livelihoods depend on the ecological services that drylands offer.
Table of Contents
What is Natural Desertification?
Desertification is the process through which grasslands and shrublands in drylands, also known as arid and semi-arid lands, decline and eventually vanish.
Several variables that vary by place and change over time contribute to desertification.
A form of land deterioration known as desertification occurs when biological production in drylands decreases as a result of a combination of natural and human-caused factors, turning productive areas arid.
It is the expansion of dry regions brought on by several factors, including climate change and excessive soil use as a result of human activity.
4 Natural Causes of Desertification
- Soil Erosion
- Climate Change
1. Soil Erosion
Soil erosion, a natural occurrence, affects all landforms. This is the process in which the topsoil of a field is eroded by water and wind. The conversion of forests into crops is one of the main causes of soil erosion, while it can also happen as a result of agricultural activities like plowing.
Droughts, which are periods with little or no precipitation, can hasten the process of desertification by worsening water scarcity and speeding up soil erosion. Without enough water, plants cannot thrive and wither away, making the soil more susceptible to wind erosion
Massive forest fires promote the spread of non-native species once the burned ground has been reseeded, kill plant life, dry up the soil, and make the area more susceptible to erosion. Burned lands have far higher rates of invasive species than unburned land, which greatly diminishes biodiversity.
4. Climate Change
A significant contributor to desertification is climate change. Desertification is a growing concern as the climate warms and droughts occur more frequently.
Although we are aware that the global average air temperature is rising, the temperature on land is rising more quickly than it is in the atmosphere. Human activity is one of the factors contributing to terrestrial warming, but so are extreme weather events.
Huge swathes of land will turn into deserts if climate change is not slowed down; some of those regions may eventually become uninhabitable. Although human activity is held responsible for climate change, other natural phenomena, such as volcanic eruption, may also be responsible.
Land warming’s effects include:
- Heat stress affects vegetation.
- Droughts and heavy rains degrade soil, making present problems with poverty and forced migration worse.
- A warmer atmosphere speeds up the breakdown of the organic matter in the soil, depleting it of nutrients.
Can We Prevent Natural Desertification or Reduce it?
Yes, we can prevent desertification from happening or reduce it. We can do that through the following ways
- Modifications to Farming Practices Policy
- Land Use Policy Changes
- Technological Advancements
- Restricting Mining Practices
- Coordinating Rehabilitation Initiatives
- Sustainable Practices and Techniques to Prevent Desertification
1. Modifications to Farming Practices Policy
To assist mitigate the issues that are frequently connected with farming and desertification, policy changes about how frequently and how much individuals can farm in specific regions may be implemented in nations where such changes will be enforced on those living there.
2. Land Use Policy Changes
The policies that govern them should be ones that will assist the land’s survival rather than ones that will allow humans to further destroy the land if they are utilizing it to extract natural resources or develop it for people to live on. Depending on the sort of land use at hand, the policy adjustments may be little or extensive.
To assist people in understanding the best way to manage the land that they are farming on, education must be used as a very significant tool in developing nations. More land will be prevented from becoming desert by educating people about sustainable practices.
4. Technological Advancements
The majority of our environmental issues may be solved through research, and desertification is no exception. It can be challenging to try to stop desertification in some situations.
Research that pushes the boundaries of what we now know about the causes of desertification is required in these circumstances, together with the deployment of cutting-edge technologies. Our ability to uncover other strategies to stop the problem from spreading could improve with advancements.
5. Restricting Mining Practices
Large-scale land damage is frequently associated with mining. Government regulation is, therefore, necessary to preserve nature reserves and safeguard numerous animals’ and plants’ natural habitats. As a result, less area will be arid, and the problem of desertification can be somewhat reduced.
6. Coordinating Rehabilitation Initiatives
It just requires some time and money commitment. There are various ways we can go back and restore the land that we have already driven into desertification. Combining these will help us stop the problem from spreading further in the regions that have already been impacted.
Reforestation efforts should be focused on areas that have already experienced deforestation. As natural carbon dioxide storage spaces decrease global warming and help to preserve a natural equilibrium, planting trees in those regions is very significant.
However, if those lands are used for other things, they might eventually become desert terrain. Therefore, by planting trees in the impacted areas, we can combat not just desertification but also other environmental problems.
8. Sustainable Practices and Techniques to Prevent Desertification
Many sustainable practices can be implemented to those behaviors that may be creating desertification. We can prevent the planet from becoming a desert by including these in addition to what we should be doing with the land.
Desertification is a significant issue that requires appropriate attention. If we take the time to handle it now, we can stop other issues from arising alongside it in the future. We now have the tools necessary to navigate the processes of desertification after taking a critical look at them.
Desertification is a natural process brought on by recurrent droughts, a lack of precipitation, soil erosion, and other extreme weather conditions. Humankind is the primary driver of global warming, which is accelerating this process.
Because the land is rendered unproductive and diseases and famine start to spread, desertification truly threatens biodiversity and hinders development. Today, about 2 billion people live in drylands, and by 2030, desertification could displace 50 million of them.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.