Land desertification and its influencing factors in Kazakhstan

Journal of Arid Environments

Volume 180, September 2020, 104203

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196320301075?dgcid=rss_sd_all

Yunfeng Huab – Yueqi Hanab – Yunzhi Zhangab

a State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China

b College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2020.104203

Highlights

• The a new technical framework for desertification identification was constructed.

• Approximately 76.1% of Kazakhstan land is considered desertification sensitive areas with moderate and higher sensitivity.

• Area of desertification land in Kazakhstan is approximately 1.04 × 105 km2, accounting for 3.8% of the total land area.

• The desertification mapping technical framework established can be used in other parts of the world.

Abstract

Desertification in Kazakhstan affects the country’s environment, agriculture and animal husbandry. It is critical to quickly and accurately identify the locations of desertification land and grasp the main causes of desertification in different states in Kazakhstan. This paper builds a new technical framework for desertification identification. Through a comprehensive analysis of desertification sensitivity, long-term trends and stability of net primary productivity (NPP), the authors determined the spatial distribution of land desertification in Kazakhstan and further analyzed the possible driving factors of desertification. The results showed that (1) approximately 76.1% of Kazakhstan land is considered desertification sensitive areas with moderate and higher sensitivity; (2) the area of desertification land in Kazakhstan is approximately 1.04 × 105 km2, accounting for 3.8% of the total land area, which is mainly distributed across seven states in western, northwestern and southwestern Kazakhstan; and (3) in the four main desertification states (West Kazakhstan, Aktobe, Mangystau and Atyrau), the climate warming and drying trends are significant. Large-scale and intensive human activities in agriculture and animal husbandry in the two main desertification regions in northern Kazakhstan have promoted land desertification to some extent. Targeted agricultural and industrial regulatory actions should be taken to prevent and control land desertification. The desertification mapping technical framework established in this paper can be used in other parts of the world. The conclusions about the driving factors have reference value for the government authorities of the states of Kazakhstan.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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

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