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Desertification: 4 effective solutions to revive degraded lands

desertification - climateaction

Desertification: 4 effective solutions to revive degraded lands

Climate change threatens biodiversity, natural resources, and the livelihoods of populations that inhabit drylands across the globe. And when the fatal trio of climate change, drought, and deforestation simultaneously occur across these regions? You get an extreme global issue known as desertification.

 

Desertification is the process whereby fertile land transforms into desert as a result of a number of factors including the loss of vegetation, drought, deforestation, and the overuse of intensive non-sustainable agricultural practices.

 

This degradation of land concerns millions of people, especially in drylands which occupy about 40 – 41% of the earth’s surface and are home to more than 2 billion people (an estimated 10 – 20% of drylands are already degraded) and occurs on all continents except Antarctica.

 

Approximately half of the people globally who live in underdeveloped countries live in affected areas.

 

There has been a connection between desertification and overgrazing because vegetation loss is the primary cause of desertification, as plants, which play a major part in retaining water and enriching the soil are damaged when farmers, who usually practice livestock farming, let their cattle loose to feed on vegetation.

 

This causes the land to lose its biological productivity and the soil surface becomes vulnerable to wind and water erosion thereby resulting in barren land that makes it difficult for agriculture.

 

While there are largely no strict regulations in place to prevent desertification, we will be looking at some viable solutions that can be introduced to restore already degraded lands. They include:

 

Alternative farming and industrial techniques

 

To mitigate desertification, alternative livelihoods that are less demanding on local land and natural resource use such as dryland aquaculture for the production of fish, industrial compounds, etc., should be encouraged.

 

Integrating the use of land for grazing and farming where conditions are favorable as well as applying a combination of traditional practices with locally acceptable and locally adapted land-use technologies, is not only a good start to ending desertification but also allows for more efficient cycling of nutrients within the agricultural systems.

 

That can be augmented by giving local communities the capacity to prevent desertification and manage dryland resources effectively.

 

Sustainable land and water use

 

Sustainable land and water use can protect soils from erosion, salinization, and other forms of degradation.

 

It can also be used to address issues that cause and worsen desertification such as unsustainable irrigation practices, overgrazing, overexploitation of plants, etc.

 

Protecting vegetative cover

 

Protecting soil can be a major instrument for soil conservation against wind and water erosion, thereby preventing the loss of ecosystem services during droughts.

 

Great Green Wall

 

In a bid to fight against land degradation and revive native plant life in their landscapes, eleven countries in Sahel-Sahara Africa which include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal have focused efforts on green walls.

 

The Great Green Wall initiative which is partly managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), plants a line of trees as a sustainable way of regenerating the parkland. This initiative is worthy of emulation as such practice can be replicated in other regions.

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