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Focus on... Combating desertification

Desertification is the degradation of land in dry regions of the world resulting from various factors including climate change and human activities. Most desertification currently occurs as a consequence of burgeoning populations and their impact on the land. The exact causes of desertification are often complex and arise from a variety of factors including settlement of marginal lands, overgrazing, poor management of water and soil, and changing climate with decreasing rainfall and greater incidence of drought.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and has been designated 'The International Year of Deserts and Desertification' In this edition of New Agriculturist, we focus on a variety of technologies, methodologies and policies that are being implemented to combat desertification and land degradation in various regions around the world.

Out of dust and sand

Out of dust and sand

Desertification adversely affects the lives and livelihoods of over 2 billion people living in drylands that cover 40 per cent of the earth's surface. Human activities such as overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation and poor irrigation practices, along with climate change, are turning once fertile soils into unproductive and barren patches of land.

Date published: July 2006

China: a vast land being swallowed

China: a vast land being swallowed

China is suffering more intense sand and dust storms than in past years. Desertification is degrading soils in the north western provinces of the country and critics argue that high economic targets are to blame.

Date published: July 2006

Mitigating desertification in Central Asia

Mitigating desertification in Central Asia

Careful water use has not been a priority over recent decades in the Central Asian Republics. But with international help, including a new project that will gather and integrate data and information to produce 'usable science', the region may have a chance of salvaging its agricultural land from the sands.

Date published: July 2006

Thriving in the Sahel

Thriving in the Sahel

Farmers in northern Nigeria are successfully intensifying their farming activities so that productivity is keeping pace with expanding populations; however drought remains a risk, and drought policy that supports farmers is needed.

Date published: July 2006

The future is infrared

The future is infrared

In Kenya, more than half of the land on the plains of Lake Victoria has been abandoned, as a result of lost nutrients in soil. A new technology using infra-red waves can detect soil damage which is the first step to restoration. The technology is more cost effective than previous methods used to test soil samples.

Date published: July 2006

A 'FIRM' approach against desertification

A 'FIRM' approach against desertification

Farmers in six locations in Namibia are taking the lead in establishing community goals and coordinating the involvement of service providers through an approach called the Forum for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM) while also monitoring local level indicators.

Date published: July 2006

Crossing the line

Crossing the line

Fences crisscross the landscape, carving it into smaller and smaller individual plots of land. These barriers also block the migratory path of wildlife and livestock, cutting off access to vital resource such as water. In fact, fences stand in the way of what underpins Maasai culture: community land and pastoral movement.

Date published: July 2006

 

 

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