Desertification: Topic Research

Desertification describes the desert-like conditions that exist in regions, often as a cause of human interaction with the environment. According to the United Nations Development Programme, “Over 40 percent of the world is drylands, where about 2.3 billion people live in nearly 100 countries.” Drylands are defined as regions where rainfall is low and evaporation is high. Desertification is one of the most serious ecosystem changes facing people who live in poverty. Two-thirds of the world’s poor live in areas that are susceptible to desertification, and over half of them depend on the land for their livelihoods. Many of desertification’s causes are human in nature (deforestation, overgrazing, poor irrigation systems, changes in population density), but the problem can also be exacerbated as severe weather events increase in frequency and severity due to climate changes. The continued degradation of dry- lands results in a ‘feedback loop’: the arid land exposes carbon captured in the soil and releases it into the atmosphere with significant consequences on global climate systems, in turn, leading to desertification. As human interference and climate change continue to cause land degradation, how will governments and land landowners respond to the ever-changing condition of their lands? What will be the effect on lifestyles and livelihoods as changes resulting from desertification occur?

Quizlet – Study Desertification term and definitions in a fun, interactive way!

UNCCD – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Outlines key topics related to desertification, land degradation, and drought.  Regional information on Africa may be especially relevant.

A kid-friendly definition

 Desertification: Causes, Effects, Spreading, and Halting
A site detailing the reasons and consequences of land desertification

UNESCO – Interactive Case Studies for Students
Click on one of the various regions affected by desertification.  Read up on the case study situations and then check out the solutions!

 Discovery News articleStopping Desertification in Africa with a ‘Great Green Wall’
     Read about this unique solution in Africa

Video: Desertification by Good Planet
A nice overview

Video: Desertification

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