Desertification and Land Degradation Concepts to Combating (

One of the most precious resources we have is land. It is limited in its extent and it has to meet multiple competing and conflicting demands; as a result there is continuous degradation of this critical resource. The book “Desertification and Land Degradation Concepts to Combating” addresses this situation in an excellent and comprehensive manner.

The book is organized under thirteen major heads, which cover all aspects from a historical perspective — through Causes, Drivers, Processes, Impact, Remote Sensing Techniques, Vulnerability Assessment, and Combating Strategies.

Notably, the issues of desertification and land degradation are not something new. These processes have been going on since ancient times but the rising population and consequent pressures on land have now accelerated the problem. The book clearly brings out the various causes and drivers — natural, anthropogenic and administrative, which contribute to these processes.

The processes are dealt with in great detail. Their impact on the natural environment and on society is well covered. This includes a very interesting chapter on Ocean Biological Deserts, which may initially appear to be out of place in a book on land degradation. However, oceans are a source of food for coastal communities, and human activities on land are known to have destroyed ocean resources leading to a desertification effect on oceans and seas as well.

The book proceeds beyond this and covers the indicators that signify in advance the possible onset or extension of land degradation. This is very important because these indicators have to be detected through mapping and monitoring, using various techniques such as remote sensing. These techniques are further used to assess the vulnerability of natural features and communities, which then leads to the evolution of combating strategies. Here, several case studies from all over the world have been given as examples. The book concludes with a chapter on international initiatives and the move towards Land Degradation Neutrality. This is important because degradation transcends national boundaries.

Overall, the book is an excellent exposition of the issues and their possible amelioration. It should be essential reading for all those working towards a sustainable future.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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

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