Desertification in Africa (Google / Project United Nations)

Read at : Google Alerts – desertification

The Issue of Desertification in Africa

Topic Overview:
The desertification of the vegetation and cultivable soil in Africa is threatening the livelihood of the people and continent’s ecosystem every year. The Sahara, the world’s hottest and third largest desert, is expanding at a rate of more than 40 kilometers per year. Just below the Sahara in parts of coastal Africa, the decline of vegetation and cultivable soil is also affected in relation to the uncontrolled exploitation of the mangrove forests.

A mangrove forest is a habitat to a number of diverse plant and animal species and plays an important role in maintaining balance to the ecosystem. Due to poverty and basic needs, the mangrove forests are stripped for their wood, leading to the decrease of biodiversity and eventual desertification in the coastal zones as well as the salinization of land, rendering unusable for agriculture.

In able to combat desertification, several countries in Africa have employed countermeasures and prevention in halting the expansion of desertification in Africa. Local populations now rely on reforestation coupled with increased awareness.

Environmental awareness and education will inform the local regarding the dangers of desertification and how their uncontrolled exploitation of vegetation and wildlife can contribute to the dangers that would eventually deal a far greater harm to them. After information dissemination, reforestation activities are greatly encouraged, spearheading the locals to plant seedlings in severely deforested areas during the rainy season.

Topic Background:
Desertification occurs when a dry land region becomes unfit for cultivation and agriculture mostly due to the rapid and eventual loss of its bodies of water as well as its vegetation and wildlife. It is land degradation on a severe level which could relatively spread out and expand to other areas, affecting more and more human population and ecosystems.


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About Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.
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