Desertification: definition, causes and consequences

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Although when talking about desertification the first thing that comes to mind is the desert, in reality, it is a different process, which has to do with the productivity of the soil from an agricultural perspective rather than with the creation of a desert ecosystem , although it is so called because after this process, after going through its most serious phase or level, the desert ecosystem ends up being formed, because that is when desertification begins.

In any case, if you want to learn and delve a little deeper into what is desertification, its definition, causes and consequences, keep reading Green Ecologist and we will explain everything in detail, examples and photos.

What is desertification: simple definition

The first thing to keep in mind is that It is not the same to speak of desertification as it is to speak of desertification. In the case of desertification, we are talking about the process through which a field goes from being fertile to sterile, that is, it is approached from an agricultural perspective. On the contrary, when speaking of desertification, what we are referring to is the process by which a territory becomes a desert, without this necessarily having to do with agrarian processes.

However, it must be understood that, desertification process whereby a land becomes sterile, it is the first step before desertification, since, being a sterile soil in which vegetation does not grow, the natural process is that the ecosystem ends up becoming a desert. However, it is important to keep in mind that they are different processes despite the similarity of their name and their close relationship.

Main causes of desertification

The causes of desertification There are several, although, most of the time, they are related to the agricultural activity that humans carry out on the land. Generally, the first element that directly influences is deforestation of the territorySince by eliminating the mass of trees and shrubs, the soil is impoverished and it suffers more from the action of erosion by destroying the vegetation cover that is formed from the leaves of the trees.

On the other hand, one of the elements that directly influences the soil desertification it is a bad use of water. In this sense, the overexploitation of aquifers, as well as over-irrigation, It can lead to the destruction of fertile soils, since the lack of water, or the excessive salinization of a high and continuous irrigation, ends up breaking the hydric balance of the land.

In addition, the abuse of agricultural land use can also lead to the desertification of the land. When monocultures are practiced and the soils are not allowed enough fallow time, this ends up leading to the loss of minerals and other elements necessary for the proper growth of plants, which ends up transforming previously fertile soils into sterile ones.

Consequences of desertification

Keep in mind that not all levels or degrees of desertification They are equal. They are generally considered to exist 3 types of desertification according to its severity when classifying a soil as in process or risk of desertification:

  • Moderate desertification: In this case, it is considered that the agricultural production of the land has decreased between 10% and 25% of its original productivity.
  • Severe desertification: Severe desertification occurs when the process is between a loss of land productivity between 25% and 50%.
  • Very severe desertification: finally, very severe desertification occurs when the loss of agricultural production is more than 50%, which entails the manifestation of the first signs of desertification (turning into a desert), such as the formation of dunes or the presence of arid lands and completely dry. Learn more about this type of environment with this other article on a closely related concept, What is drought, its causes and consequences.

The immediate consequences of desertification It is the inability to grow anything on the affected soils, which leads to problems when it comes to having enough food for the population. In addition, another of the problems that these soils present is their great erosion, which means that, in case of copious rains, they are not able to retain water, which in many cases ends in the form of torrents, landslides, landslides. , floods and large personal and material losses.

Possible solutions for desertification

There are different ways to counteract this process that have been applied successfully in different places. But nevertheless, the measure that has been shown to be most effective has been the reforestation, since, when recovering the arboreal mass, the process of creating the vegetal cover that supports the soil is also recovered, which also allows the growth of smaller plants that contribute to the richness and solidity of the soil against the erosion.

On the other hand, the elimination of monocultures in favor of polycultures, as well as certain agricultural techniques such as fallow or fertilization with natural compost of the affected areas, have led to good results in slowing down the desertification process. However, this type of technique, despite its good results, has been shown to be insufficient when it comes to avoiding or reversing the process, so, without a doubt, the best possible solution continues to be the reforestation of the adjacent lands. to the fields.

If you want to read more articles similar to Desertification: definition, causes and consequences, we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment.

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