Restoring degraded lands would be a huge blessing (Google / DEVEX)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

It’s time for a global landscape restoration revolution

By Monique Barbut, Andrew Steer

The solution to the very visible global problems of deforestation, desertification and food scarcity may be hiding in plain sight: the transformative ability to restore degraded land to productive use.

This is a resource opportunity of unprecedented magnitude. Two billion hectares— an area twice the size of Europe — of degraded land are ripe for landscape restoration. The expected rise in world population to 9 billion by 2050, and the need for a 70 percent increase in food production from 2006 levels, makes the need for a solution particularly urgent. This challenge will be even more difficult in the face of a changing climate.

Restoring these degraded lands would also be a huge blessing to millions of small farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods — and it offers the additional benefit of mitigating climate change while helping farmers adapt to it. Restoring 150 million hectares would yield $84 billion in annualized net present value and would sequester approximately 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

What is required now is the political momentum to do so.











Posted in Desertification, land / land degradation

What desertification should mean ? (Land Ecology)

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Desertification? With a grain of salt

A steady stream of news articles announce: “Desertification affects (insert fraction) of (insert country)”. A photograph of a sand-engulfed house, dry riverbed, dead animal, or close-up of cracked earth accompanies the story. Environmental catastrophes make for interesting reading. But it is seldom clear what ecological phenomena the term “desertification” actually refers to, and therefore what the solution might be. And it’s the solution that matters.

Desertification is a poorly-defined catch-all for land degradation occurring in “drylands” featuring relatively arid climates. The imprecision produces assessments of desertification extent that range from 4-74% of global drylands1. Nonetheless, the term “desertification” has international standing via the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The UNCCD has been ratified by 195 countries plus the European Union—a remarkable level of acceptance for a vague ecological concept. For countries afflicted with desertification there are also direct benefits in the form of support for international development assistance1.

The specific definition used in the UNCCD bears the hallmark diffuseness of design by committee. It is the

“reduction or loss in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain-fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest, and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns, such as: (i) soil erosion caused by wind and/or water; (ii) deterioration of the physical, chemical, and biological or economic properties of soil; and (iii) long-term loss of natural vegetation”.

Even among my close colleagues, we disagree about what desertification should mean.


Posted in Desertification

Desertification in Benin (Google / UNOHRLLS)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Building Productive Capacity

Posted in Desertification

Combating desertification in Somaliland (Google / Somaliland Informer)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Somaliland: plans in place to deal with desertification- Environment Minister

HARGEISA, July 19 (Somalilandinformer)-Environment & Rural Development Minister Ms. Shukri Ismail Bandare has announced that there are plan underway to stop the desertification of country’s major forests.

She cited that there is an availability of gas cookers from Ethiopia which is about $20 in a major bid to save the country from turning into desert. The Minister has revealed the statements in a press conference in which she responded to media reports saying that the country is a major hub for illegal trade on wild animals.

On the other hand, she said that many residents in the country have now accustomed to the use of gas cookers rather than depending mainly on charcoal. Mr. Shukri has said that the world forget what they did to curb illegal trade on wild animals. She warned that those caught red handed will face heavy fine.


Posted in Desertification

Here is “The Great Green Wall of Africa” again (Atlas Obscura)

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Dakar, Senegal

The Great Green Wall of Africa

4,700 miles of trees holding back the desert

The Great Wall of China was built over a millennium to ward off nomadic raiders. With Africa’s farmlands threatened by an enemy more pernicious than any Mongolian horde, Senegal is leading a 12-nation cooperative effort to erect a living defense system aptly named the Great Green Wall of Africa.

The Sahara is currently the second largest desert in size, only smaller than Antarctica. However, unlike its frozen relative, the Sahara is actually expanding. The United Nations estimates that, by 2025, two thirds of Africa’s arable land will be covered in Saharan sand, vastly expanding the current 9 million square kilometers. Even if these predictions prove aggressive, the effects of farmland destruction on a continent already hard-pressed for food would be devastating on any level.

With this peril in sight, the leaders of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti have banded together on an unprecedented endeavor to stave off impending catastrophe. Once complete, Africa’s Green Wall will be a manmade forest of drought-resistant trees (principally acacia) stretching across the entire continent.


Posted in Desertification, Great Green Wall (GGW)

The prickly pear, an interesting species to combat desertification and hunger (Yemen Times)

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Prickly Pears

Ali Abulohoom (author), Ali Abulohoom (photographer), Micah Reddy (author)

The prickly pear is ubiquitous in Sana’a at this time of year. The fruit’s juicy yellow-orange pulp provides a welcome refreshment during the hot summer months, when vendors sell them in heaps atop rickety pushcarts.

The prickly pear, or opuntia ficus-indica, a member of the cactus family, is native to the Americas. Since Columbus, it has spread across the world and is widely cultivated around the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, South Africa, and other regions.

On the face of it, the humble prickly pear hardly seems like something that would stir much controversy, but in fact it has proven to be a rather thorny issue in the past. Conservationists in Australia and South Africa, for instance, campaigned vigorously against the plant, viewing it an as invasive species and a serious threat to local biodiversity.

Prickly pear, edible spineless variety (Photo Yemen Times, Ali Abulohoom)

Prickly pear, edible spineless variety (Photo Yemen Times, Ali Abulohoom)

Nevertheless, for all the controversy, the plant has long been a valuable asset, and not only for its fleshy fruit. The prickly pear cactus is used in building plaster and is useful as a natural barrier with its thick and thorny pads. It is also the most common host for the cochineal insect, the source of vibrant red dye that was the mainstay of a number of local pre-colonial economies in Central America, becoming an even more sought-after commodity with the coming of the Spanish.

The plant remains economically important for many communities, especially in poorer parts of the world. William Beinart, professor of African Studies at the University of Oxford and author of the book “Prickly Pear: A Social History of a Plant in the Eastern Cape,” has explored the many uses of the plant in rural South Africa, where it is used in the production of homemade beer that provides a sorely needed source of income for many rural families.

Similarly, the plant’s hardiness and versatility make it a popular crop in arid, drought-prone Yemen, where it is commonly seen dotted along roadsides and growing on patches of dry land. Unlike other widely grown crops such as qat, the prickly pear is very water efficient and does not require much in the way of costly inputs such as fertilizer.


Posted in Desertification, Opuntia ficus-indica

Turkey needs more water-efficient systems (Google / Word Bulletin)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

‘Desert’ fears for Turkey’s water supplies

World Bulletin / News Desk

Occupancy rates of Istanbul’s dams have dropped to critical levels due to lack of rainfall this year, prompting fears of drought and ‘desertification’ in Turkey’s largest city.

Around 15 million people could be affected after the water level in many Istanbul dams fell to under 20 percent, according to Turkey’s State Water Affairs body. Now experts are warning that the country has to conserve and re-use water to prevent problems in agriculture and energy generation.

Ali Uyumaz, a hydroelectric and river improvements expert at Istanbul Technical University, says the Marmara region and Istanbul have a limited number of water basins compared to regions in eastern and southern Turkey.

“The biggest issue is not the occupancy rate but to use water sources wisely” Uyumaz says.

“Turkey needs more water-efficient systems in households and factories. The country should also focus and introduce water-saving measures in each and every home.”


Posted in Desertification, drought, Water