Desert Transformation or D‌esertification Control?

Document Type : Research and Full Length Article

Author

Dryland Consultant, Adelaide, Australia

Abstract

The UNCCD has been ratified by over 190 countries. It is the attempt by nations, both rich and poor to control the scourge of desertification. The definition of which is “land degradation in arid, semiarid, and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. It is now widely accepted that desertification is not the relentless advance of desert but rather the development of land degradation in discrete sites that can coalesce and spread (Squires and Sidahmed 1998). China, a signatory to the UNCCD, has a large area of desert and an alarming rate of desertification of all types wind and water erosion, and soil salinization (Luo and Zhang 2006). In China for example, in provinces such as Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Gansu the local officials report that the rate of expansion of desertified lands is proceeding at double the rate of control measures. Clearly, this is unsatisfactory and better ways must be found to reverse the trend. National efforts to combat desertification employ a range of measures, some physical and others relate to socio-economic and policy change (Lu et al. 2005). Other countries that are UNCCD signatories face similar problems. Sandy desertification[1] (sandification) is of great concern in China (Wang 2000). Iran and countries of the Gulf Persian region (Al Faraji 2002). Until recently the area of sandification in China was growing at a rapid rate, despite efforts to combat it (Fig 1). It is estimated that the rate of rangeland degradation in semi arid and dry sub-humid areas is 90-97%, and the annual rate of rangeland degradation is accelerating. But, in China as a whole, from 2004 onwards the rate of expansion of land affected by sandification has declined and in some areas it has been reversed (Luo and Zhang 2006). Other forms of desertification, especially in the marginal cropping lands in the interface zone between the pastoral zone and the croplands, are on the increase. This is also apparent in other countries as burgeoning human and livestock populations put more and more pressure on the shrinking arable land base (El-Beltagy, Saxena and Wang 2008).



[1]-Sandification refers to sandy desertification. It is experienced in many areas of China from the sub-humid Hulunbir grasslands in NE China to the edges of the various deserts in western and northern China.

Keywords


Al Faraji F. 2002. Combating
desertification and sandstorms in Iraq. In
Yang et al. 2002. Global Alarm: Dust and
Sandstorms from the World’s Drylands.
UN. Beijing. 324p.
Alsharhan, AS. Wood, WW, Goudie, A.
Glennie KW and Abdellatif, EM (eds)
Desertification in the Third Millenium.
A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, The
Netherlands.
El-Beltagy, A. Saxena MC and Wang T
(eds), 2008. Human and Nature–Working
together for Sustainable Development of
Drylands. (Proceedings of the eighth
International Conference on
Development of Drylands, 25-
28th February 2006, Beijing, China).
ICARDA, Alleppo, Syria pp. 718-23.
Lu Q, Wang S, Squires V. and Yang Y
2006. Desertification and Dust Storms in
China: Impacts, Root Causes and
Mitigation Strategies China Forest
Science and Technology 53: 22-35.
Luo T and Zhang K. 2006. Strategies of
combating desertification in China.
China Forestry Publishing House [In
Chinese]
Reynolds JF and Stafford Smith, DM
2002. Do humans cause desertification?
Dahlem University Press, Berlin.
Squires V. and Sidahmed, A (Eds), 1998.
‘Drylands: sustainable use of rangelands
into the twenty-first century’. IFAD,
Rome, 470 p.
Squires V, Hua L, Zhang D and Li G. 2010.
Towards sustainable use of rangelands in
northwest China. Springer, Dordrecht.
Squires, V. Lu X., Lu Q, Wang T, and
Yang, Y. 2009. Degradation and
Recovery in China’s Pastoral Lands.
CAB International, Wallingford, UK,
268p.
Squires, V.R. 2003. Desertification, climate
change and the world’s drylands. In:
Desertification in the Third Millenium.
(eds A. S. Alsharhan, W. W. Wood, A.
Goudie, K. W. Glennie and E. M.
Abdellatif) A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam,
The Netherlands, pp. 21-26.
Squires,V.R. 2007. Dust and sand storms in
NE Asia–a transboundary environmental
problem. In: El-Beltagy, A. Mohan C.
Saxena and Tao Wang (eds) Human and
Nature–Working together for Sustainable
Development of Drylands. (Proceedings
of the eighth International Conference on
Development of Drylands, 25-28th
February 2006, Beijing, China).
ICARDA, Alleppo, Syria, pp. 405-410.
Sunnu A, Afet G and Resch F. 2008. Long
term environmental study on the Saharan
dust presence in West Africa. Atmos.
Envir. 87: 13-26.
This is trial version
www.adultpdf.com
Journal of Rangeland Science, 2010, Vol. 1, No Victor R. Squires / 21
Wang T. 2000 Land Use and sandy
desertification in North China Journal of
Desert Research, (20) 2.
Yang Y, Squires V and Lu Q. 2002. Global
Alarm: Dust and Sandstorms from the
World’s Drylands, UN. Beijing.
Yang X., Zhang K, Jia B and Ci. L. 2005.
Desertification assessment in China: an
overview. Journal of Arid Environments
63:517-531.
Zhou Y and Ma B. 2009. Mechanisms of
soil erosion processes by wind and water
in Chinese rangelands In: Squires et al.;
2009 [op cit.].