Small dams and mulching against desertification in Burkina Faso (Technorati – Sociolingo)

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Technorati : desertification

Sociolingo’s Africa

Burkina Faso: Pilot project against desertification

Posted by sociolingo on April 17th, 2007

A Pilot Project That Defies Desertification
Michée Boko

COTONOU, Apr 11 (IPS) – The village of Guié in central Burkina Faso may not have much name recognition in the grand scheme of things. But for more than a decade, this community has been the site of an initiative that provides hope in the fight against desertification.

Continue reading Small dams and mulching against desertification in Burkina Faso (Technorati – Sociolingo)


Land Degradation – Desertification (ruralpovertyportal / FAO)

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Properties and Management of Drylands

Land Degradation – Desertification

The CCD defines desertification as land degradation in the drylands (” ‘Desertification’ means land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.”), yet the two terms are often used as if they are distinct (e.g., “Land degradation and desertification in desert margins” by Reich et al. 2000). The CCD also defines “land” by its primary productivity service (” ‘land’ means the terrestrial bioproductive system.”) and “land degradation” as an implicit loss of provision of this service (” ‘land degradation’ means reduction or loss . of the biological or economic productivity .’). The definition of biological productivity and economic benefit depends on users’ priorities – transforming woodland to cropland may decrease biological productivity, degrade the economic benefit of firewood production but increase the economic benefit of food production. With respect to the mechanisms of land degradation – changes in the properties of the land (soil, water, vegetation) do not correspond linearly to changes in productivity. Loss of productivity can also be attributed to non human-induced factors such as rainfall variability and human factors such as low labor input. Thus, a range of interacting variables that affect productivity should be addressed in order to assess objectively and unambiguously land degradation. Commonly considered degradation processes are vegetation degradation, water and wind erosion, salinization, soil compaction and crusting, and soil nutrient depletion. Pollution, acidification, alkalization, and water logging are often important locally (Oldeman, 1994; Lal, 2001; Dregne, 2002). Field experiments, field measurements, field observations, remote sensing, and computer modeling are carried out to study these processes. The higher the aggregation level in each of these study approaches, the more problematic each of the methods becomes, either because of upscaling issues or because of questionable extrapolations and generalizations.

Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Current State and Trends, Chapter 22: Dryland Systems (details…)

Desertification and sand storms in China (Google News Alert / China Daily)

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Google News Alert for : desertification

China Daily :

Operation blitzkrieg against desert storm

By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-03 06:58

“It was huge, 3,100 square km till the late 1920s. A lifeline of the ancient Silk Road, it was first mapped by ancient Chinese geographers. But the salt lake in the southeastern part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has largely dried up today, with marshes and small, shifting lakes receiving the channels of the Tarim River. It’s true, Lop Nur is still there, but at best it can be described as a marshy depression.

Nature’s fury is about to make history repeat itself; this time in Northwest China’s Gansu Province as another tragedy. The Minqin Oasis is still about 1,000 square km, but is shrinking fast. Scarily, its surrounding geographical features are similar to that of Lop Nur. It’s surrounded by the Tengger and Badain Jaran deserts and is vanishing at an alarming the rate of 3 to 4 meters a year, says Gansu Vice-Governor Shi Jun.

Reclaiming of forests and grasslands for agriculture and the unprecedented dry weather of recent years have been blamed for the ecological and economic threat. But the National Conference on Desertification Prevention held in Beijing late last month was determined to not let it disappear. “No stone should be left unturned to stop Minqin from vanishing,” Shi told the conference, the fifth of its kind.

Continue reading Desertification and sand storms in China (Google News Alert / China Daily)

Slowing soil erosion with vegetation restoration (SciDev.Net)

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SciDev.Net – Mise à jour hebdomadaire de SciDev.Net: 27 mars – 02 avril 2007

Restore vegetation to slow soil erosion, say scientists

Eva Aguilar
3 April 2007
Source: SciDev.Net

“Revegetation programmes can slow the rapid erosion rates occurring in tropical mountain areas to near-natural levels, say researchers. A study published in the April issue of the journal Geology measured soil degradation due to human activity in the southern Ecuadorian Andes. It provides a basis for strategies to restore damaged land.

“The results indicate that erosion and land degradation are not necessarily irreversible processes,” says lead researcher Veerle Vanacker, of the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium. The team selected Andean Ecuador as their study area because “land use in this area is very dynamic, and its degradation is an important issue that is limiting socio-economic development in the region”.

Continue reading Slowing soil erosion with vegetation restoration (SciDev.Net)

Modernize traditional agriculture in Ghana (African Agriculture)

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African Agriculture

Modernize Ghanaian traditional agriculture : report

“Agriculture was the most important source of growth in the Ghanaian economy between 2000 and 2005, with an average of about 5.1%, while services and industry averaged 5.0% and 4.5% respectively. Agriculture remained a dominant sector up to 2005, contributing 42% to GDP, while services and industry contributed 31% and 27% respectively. From 1995 to 2005 the contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP declined marginally from 42.7% to 41.9%, while the services sector’s contribution to GDP increased by 0.6%, and that of industry by 0.2 of a percentage point.

Problems in agriculture include the sector being predominantly rain-fed, with undeveloped irrigation systems. Average fertilizer use of about 34,000 tonnes/annum in the last decade, as well as agriculture being mostly smallholder activity, has prompted the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to propose agriculture modernization in order to attain national goals. The NDPC noted that the average use of fertilizer in the agriculture sector was one of the lowest in Africa and probably the world.

Continue reading Modernize traditional agriculture in Ghana (African Agriculture)

Pastoralism, traditional knowledge and management in desertification (IUCN / CRIC 5-UNCCD)

22 March 2007

“Indigenous, local people and pastoralists are best positioned to overcome degradation of the world’s drylands. This was one of the key messages that pastoralists, the World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and UNCCD focal points from several Southern African countries communicated to policy makers at a recent conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Buenos Aires.

Land degradation and poverty are common phenomena in the world’s drylands. However, inappropriate development has exacerbated the degradation of drylands and in consequence increased poverty. Pastoralists – nomadic herders of sheep, goats and camels – have for centuries used the drylands sustainably. By moving on to new grazing places when resources got scarce, they prevented overgrazing or soil erosion.

Continue reading Pastoralism, traditional knowledge and management in desertification (IUCN / CRIC 5-UNCCD)

Nature conservation in Algerian Sahara

Having read this contribution on the Africa Environment blog,

I could not resist recommending the takers of this new initiative to get in contact with UNICEF ALGERIA, currently carrying out the project “Family gardens in the refugee camps of the Sahraouis people” (Sahara desert, S.W. Algeria). Let us first have a look at the text :

Algerian conservationists block advance of Sahara Desert

“In May, Algeria will inaugurate a reserve around a small oasis in the south-west where plants and animals will be protected in the service of a broader goal. Hopes are that the Taghit National Park will help stop the advance of the Sahara Desert, which already stretches across almost all of this North African country.

The project was initiated by the Friends of the Sahara Association, a founder member of the National Committee of Algerian NGOs against Desertification, and the National Agency for the Conservation of Nature (ANCN).

“The Taghit National Park covers a surface area of 250.000 ha, which could be extended to 500.000 ha with the inclusion of the neighbouring Guir region,” said Amina Fellous, an engineer at ANCN, which is tasked with leading the project. The reserve is to include areas isolated from human activity, as well as perimeter zones where various pursuits, even for light and medium-sized industries, will be permitted on condition that they do not pollute, Fellous explained. “In Taghit, any socio-economic activity having negative effects on water resources will not be allowed,” she said.

The project will seek to protect grasslands and restore palm groves, renew the planting of acacias, and reforest denuded land with indigenous species for the benefit of migratory species. Water points will be established in the park, and efforts made to develop the region’s plant genetic resources.

The list of mammals to be protected makes mention of about 33 species. To date, no less than 107 species of birds have been documented in the area, but an exhaustive list has yet to be compiled during different seasons, in order to include migratory birds. About 20 birds feature on the list of protected species of Algeria.

Furthermore, the Taghit park will aim to protect and promote the archaeological heritage of the area – and to develop tourist facilities that are in harmony with their surroundings. Conservation will also support agricultural activity, says Malik Raheb, an agricultural engineer. “The creation of the Taghit National Park, aside from its role of being a barrier to the desert, will also allow a still greater response to the agricultural needs of people in the region, as is already evidenced by the production of tomatoes and potatoes.”

2007-01 Dahla
2007-01 : Camp of Dahla (Tindouf area) – Mission, with delegation of foresters from the Services de Conservation des Forêts de Tindouf, evaluates successfull vegetable gardens of the UNICEF ALGERIA project.

2007-01 : Camp de Dahla (région de Tindouf) – La missison avec une délégation des forestiers des Services de la Conservation des Forêts de Tindouf évalue les jardins potagers réussis du projet UNICEF ALGERIE.

In particular this last sentence indicates that the Friends of the Sahara Association, a founder member of the National Committee of Algerian NGOs against Desertification, and the National Agency for the Conservation of Nature (ANCN) and UNICEF ALGERIA should better join hands and exchange their knowledge and expertise. Working somewhat in the same domains (conservation, restoration, combat of desertification, sustainable development, agriculture and horticulture), it would inexplicable the organizations working in the same S.W.-region of Algeria would not sit around the table to explore possible cooperation, or at least explore echange of information.

Looking forward,