Desertification - Definition, Causes & its Impact (2022)

This article shares details on the meaning of desertification, the 7 different causes behind desertification, and the negative and harmful effects of desertification like increase in poverty, hunger, fall in farm outputs etc.

Desertification is a topic in the Geography section of the UPSC syllabus. Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Aspirants should begin their preparation by solving UPSC Previous Year Question Papers now!!

To complement your preparation for the upcoming exam, check the following links:

    • Daily Video Analysis – The Hindu Newspaper
    • Daily Press Information Bureau (PIB) Analysis for UPSC Civil Service Exam
    • Download Geography NCERT Notes PDF (Free) for IAS Exam
    • Download NCERT Notes PDF for UPSC Exam (Free)
    • Download Indian Polity Notes PDF for IAS Exam(Free)

Desertification – Degradation of Fertile Land

Desertification is the degradation process by which a fertile land changes itself into a desert by losing its flora and fauna, this can be caused by drought, deforestation, climate change, human activities or improper agriculture. Desertification is a process of degradation of the land. It occurs because of man-made activities and climate change. Desertification takes place when a particular type of biome converts into a desert biome.

Desertification Causes

  1. Overgrazing
  2. Deforestation
  3. Farming Practices
  4. Urbanization and other types of land development
  5. Climate Change
  6. Stripping the land of resources
  7. Natural Disasters

Desertification Impacts

  1. Farming becomes difficult or even impossible in the area
  2. Flooding chances are more
  3. Hunger – because of no farming
  4. Poor quality of water
  5. Overpopulation
  6. Poverty as a result of the above

Steps To Reduce Desertification

Given below are the steps which may help in reducing Desertification:

  • Focus on Water management. Rainwater harvest must be done, water that can be reused must not be left out as waste
  • Reforestation and tree regeneration
  • Buttressing the soil through the use of sand fences, shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks
  • Better and hyper-fertilization ofsoil through planting
  • The residue from pruned trees can be used to provide mulching for fields thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation

UPSC Aspirants can refer to the links below for exam preparation:

(Video) Desertification (causes, impact and solutions)

National Water Mission
National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)National Water Mission – Jal Jeevan Mission
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)Ministry of Jal Shakti – Significance of Jal Shakti Ministry, Jal Shakti Abhiyan

Desertification in India

  • Population growth, removal of wood, overgrazing, soil erosions, etc. are all the important factors that have caused desertification in India
  • According to the Government’s data recently presented to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), India lost 31%, or 5.65 million hectares, of grassland area in a decade
  • As per reports,over 105 million hectares or about 32% of India’s areas has degraded
  • Between 2003-2005 and 2011-2013, 26 states witnessed an increase in the level of desertification in India

Measures Taken To Curb Desertification in India

Multiple steps and measures have been taken by the concerned authorities regarding curbing desertification in India. Discussed below are the same:

  • A Command Area Development Programme was launched in1974 which is coordinated by theMinistry of Water Resources for its implementation in various states of the country. It aims at improvising the irrigational potential through water management
  • In 1989-90,Integrated Watershed Management Programme was launched, which was later renamed asHaryali Guidelines in 2013, and then,subsumed under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana
  • Implemented by theMinistry of Rural Development, theDesert Development Programme was launched in 1995 to minimize the effects of drought in areas across the country
  • India also became a signatory tothe United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 1994
  • National Afforestation Programme was implementedby the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the year 2000
  • In 2001, the National Action Programme to Combat Desertification wasimplemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  • Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India was released by ISRO in 2016to combatdesertification and land degradation

Measures Taken To Curb Desertification Globally

Desertification is an issue for people across the globe and multiple steps have been taken to curb it. Given below are the steps which have been taken globally to curb desertification:

  • Goal 15 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 2030 declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production.”
  • The Bonn Challenge has been taken up as per which150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land is expected to be restored by 2020 and around 350 million hectares to be restored by 2030
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994
  • Apart from this, every year, June 17 is observed as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Desertification – Latest News

  1. Recently, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was observed on June 17th. The theme for 2019 is ‘Let’s Grow the Future Together’ to encourage people against depleting the land of its inbuilt resources
  2. For years, commentators have questioned the popularity of sugarcane in arid, drought-prone Marathwada. When farmers reluctantly shifted to tur in 2016, the state government had the opportunity to promote better crop planning, as per water experts. But things didn’t pan out on expected lines. If things continue unchanged, water-stressed regions such as Marathwada could be heading towards desertification, as per opinions shared by experts.
  3. According to statistics, China has 2.61 million square kilometers of desert, meaning more than a quarter of the country’s land is either degraded or lost to sand. However, thanks to decades-long efforts to combat desertification, China has achieved substantial progress in sand control and ecological protection.

Consider the following Statements

  1. Desertification makes a land fertile.
  2. Desertification is always a natural process.

Which of the Following Statements are Correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

Answer: d

Also see:

(Video) What Is Desert? And Desertification Causes And Effects || . Lecture No = 2

Loss of BiodiversityClimate Change
Causes of the Loss of BiodiversityBiological Weathering

Frequently Asked Questions related to Desertification

What are the main causes of desertification?

‘Climatic variations’ and ‘Human activities’ can be regarded as the two main causes of desertification. Climate change, drought, moisture loss on a across the globe are the reasons clubbed under climate variation. Overgrazing, deforestation, removal of natural vegetation cover, agricultural activities in the vulnerable ecosystems of arid and semi-arid areas, which are thus strained beyond their capacity. These activities are triggered by population growth, the impact of market economy, and poverty.

What are the effects of desertification?

Desertification reduces the ability of the land to support life, affecting wild species, domestic animals, agricultural crops and people. The reduction in plant cover that accompanies desertification leads to accelerated soil erosion by wind and water.

(Video) Desertification - What Are The Causes of Desertification? - GCSE Geography

How can desertification be stopped?

Desertification can be reduced by adopting different strategies. One of them is by planting more trees – the roots of trees hold the soil together and help to reduce soil erosion from wind and rain. The other strategy one can think about is Improving the quality of soil, this can be managed by encouraging people to reduce the number of grazing animals they have and grow crops instead. The animal manure can be used to fertilise the crops grown. Growing crops in this way can improve the quality of the soil as it is held together by the roots of plants and protected from erosion. This type of farming is more sustainable. Another important strategy is water management. This is done by storing water in earth dams in the wet season, therefore it can be used to irrigate crops during the dry season.

Where is Desertification a problem?

About 1.2 billion people are at risk from desertification as deserts expand and degraded drylands cover close to a third of the world’s land surface area, the United Nations estimates. As per the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the rate of desertification is speeding up. Almost a third of the land in the U.S. is affected by desertification, and one quarter of Latin America and the Caribbean, and one-fifth of Spain. Africa is the worst affected continent; with two-thirds of its land either desert or drylands.

How does Desertification affect the economy?

The impact of desertification on the socio-economic life of rural households leads to a reduction in crop and animal production, as well as causing, livestock deaths and rise in the prices of foodstuffs. People migrate as a consequence of drought and desertification to urban areas or to other rural areas.

(Video) DROUGHTS AND DESERTIFICATION // definitions and effects

Relevant Links

Environment and Ecology Notes For UPSC Civil Service Exam
Previous Years Environment Questions in UPSC Mains General Studies Paper- 3Topic-Wise General Studies Paper-3 Questions in UPSC Mains

The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2021.

Candidates preparing for the Civil Service exam can refer to the below-given links, for more information related to climate change, environment and ecology, water scarcity, and various Government of India schemes to tackle the problem of Climate change.

Relevant Links

United Nations Development Program and IndiaUnited Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Climate Change In IndiaNo-Till Farming – Method of Agriculture that has many Environmental Positives
National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE)
Green India Mission (GIM)National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)
Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunals in India

FAQs

What is desertification and its causes? ›

Desertification is the degradation process by which a fertile land changes itself into a desert by losing its flora and fauna, this can be caused by drought, deforestation, climate change, human activities or improper agriculture. Desertification is a process of degradation of the land.

What is desertification answer? ›

desertification, also called desertization, the process by which natural or human causes reduce the biological productivity of drylands (arid and semiarid lands).

What is the impact of desertification? ›

CONSEQUENCES OF DESERTIFICATION

Loss of biodiversity by worsening the living conditions of many species. Food insecurity due to crop failure or reduced yields. The loss of vegetation cover and therefore of food for livestock and humans. Increased risk of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19.

What is the full definition of desertification? ›

The United Nations' official definition says desertification is land degradation in typically dry areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

What are the 3 main causes of desertification? ›

The main causes of desertification include:
  • Population growth - the population in some desert areas is increasing. ...
  • Removal of wood - in developing countries, people use wood for cooking. ...
  • Overgrazing - an increasing population results in larger desert areas being farmed.

What are the five main causes of desertification? ›

Overgrazing is the major cause of desertification worldwide. Other factors that cause desertification include urbanization, climate change, overuse of groundwater, deforestation, natural disasters, and tillage practices in agriculture that make soils more vulnerable to wind.

What is desertification PDF? ›

factors, including climatic variations and human activities, is called desertification. (Anonymous, 1992). It is a slow process of land degradation that exacerbates the quality of. land, leading to decline in its productivity and thus impacting the livelihood of the people. depending on it.

What are the types of desertification? ›

The classification system used in the preparation of continental desertification maps is based on four classes of desertification: slight, moderate, severe, and very severe.

Why is desertification a problem? ›

It occurs when trees and bushes are stripped away for fuelwood and timber, or to clear land for cultivation. Wind and water erosion aggravate the damage, carrying away topsoil and leaving behind a highly infertile mix of dust and sand. It is the combination of these factors that transforms degraded land into desert.

What is the main impact of deforestation? ›

The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.

What are the social impacts of desertification? ›

War, social disorder, political instability and migration all result from desertification. Poor rural people are often forced to migrate. 50 million people may be displaced within the next 10 years as a result of desertification.

What is the impact of desertification on soils? ›

Desertification has caused major environmental and socioeconomic problems in many arid and semiarid areas of the world1. It causes soil degradation and severely reduces potential land productivity2,3,4, which causes degradation of the ecosystem and its associated ecosystem services.

What is an example of desertification? ›

Additional savannas, grasslands, and woodlands are common indications of desertification in arid and semi-arid areas. Well-known examples of this occurrence include, Europe's Adriatic Sea, the Middle-East's Saharan desert, and China's Taklamakhan Desert. Sand dunes are formed in the Sahara Desert in the image above.

What is the introduction of desertification? ›

Desertification is any widespread environmental degradation that reduces productivity of dryland ecosystems by reducing plant cover, soil loss, loss of soil organic matter, increasing sand dunes, and increasing run-off.

What is a sentence for desertification? ›

1. A third of Africa is under threat of desertification. 2. If desertification continues to spread, the dust bowl will not only undermine the economy but also trigger a huge migration eastward.

What are the causes of deforestation? ›

Direct causes of deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization. Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation.

What is the impact of desertification on the economy? ›

The impact of desertification on the socio-economic life of rural households leads to reduction in crop and animal production, as well as causing, livestock deaths and rise in the prices of foodstuffs.

What is desertification Wikipedia? ›

Desertification is a type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid.

How can we prevent desertification? ›

Strategies to reduce desertification
  1. Planting more trees - the roots of trees hold the soil together and help to reduce soil erosion from wind and rain.
  2. Improving the quality of the soil - this can be managed by encouraging people to reduce the number of grazing animals they have and grow crops instead.

What is desertification PPT? ›

What is desertification • Desertification is land degradation process in arid and semi-arid areas. • It is a process by which fertile land is transformed into desert. • It becomes progressively drier • Unable to support any plant growth for food production.

What is the main cause of desertification in Africa? ›

Poverty-related agricultural practices are a major contributor to desertification. Continuous cultivation without adding supplements, overgrazing, lack of soil and water conservation structures, and indiscriminate bushfires aggravate the process of desertification.

Is desertification a disaster? ›

Desertification is a natural disaster which has been made worse by human activities. Efforts are being made from the world level to solve this ecological problem. To prevent the spread of desertification, the warming of the earth has to be reduced by reducing the environmental imbalance.

What is the conclusion of desertification? ›

Desertification is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems. It affects the livelihoods of millions of people. In 2000, drylands, which occupy 41% of Earth's land area, were home to a third of the human population.

What is the conclusion for drought? ›

The conclusion of drought is as follows:

Droughts are natural calamities that no one can prevent, but we can prepare for the effects of the disaster to make it more manageable. There are numerous human and natural system costs that we should be aware of as a result of this force of nature.

What are the steps of desertification? ›

Water Erosion
  • Water Erosion. ...
  • Wind Erosion/Deposition. ...
  • Mining. ...
  • Vegetation Degradation.
3 Jan 2015

Where do we find desertification? ›

More specifically, desertification plays its largest role in the grasslands of East Africa, the Kalahari Desert and the Sahara Desert. These regions span over 65 percent of the land. In Ethiopia, 80 percent of the land is at risk of desertification.

How many countries are affected by desertification? ›

These regions – representing around 14 million hectares – show high sensitivity to desertification. Thirteen Member States have declared themselves affected by desertification under UNCCD: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

How does soil affect climate change? ›

Soil can also influence climate on a smaller scale. Soils that are wetter or denser hold heat and stabilize the surroundings from temperature changes more so than drier, looser soils. The temperature in deserts may increase by more than 60°F during the course of a day.

What is causing desertification in Africa? ›

Poverty-related agricultural practices are a major contributor to desertification. Continuous cultivation without adding supplements, overgrazing, lack of soil and water conservation structures, and indiscriminate bushfires aggravate the process of desertification.

What are the causes of deforestation? ›

Direct causes of deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization. Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation.

What are examples of desertification? ›

Additional savannas, grasslands, and woodlands are common indications of desertification in arid and semi-arid areas. Well-known examples of this occurrence include, Europe's Adriatic Sea, the Middle-East's Saharan desert, and China's Taklamakhan Desert. Sand dunes are formed in the Sahara Desert in the image above.

What are the types of desertification? ›

The classification system used in the preparation of continental desertification maps is based on four classes of desertification: slight, moderate, severe, and very severe.

What is desertification PDF? ›

factors, including climatic variations and human activities, is called desertification. (Anonymous, 1992). It is a slow process of land degradation that exacerbates the quality of. land, leading to decline in its productivity and thus impacting the livelihood of the people. depending on it.

How can we prevent desertification? ›

Strategies to reduce desertification
  1. Planting more trees - the roots of trees hold the soil together and help to reduce soil erosion from wind and rain.
  2. Improving the quality of the soil - this can be managed by encouraging people to reduce the number of grazing animals they have and grow crops instead.

What are the economic impacts of desertification? ›

The impact of desertification on the socio-economic life of rural households leads to reduction in crop and animal production, as well as causing, livestock deaths and rise in the prices of foodstuffs.

What is the impact of deforestation? ›

The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.

Why is desertification a global problem? ›

Desertification contributes to global climate change by increasing exposed land surface, hence albedo; increasing the potential and decreasing the actual evapotranspiration rate; changing the ground surface energy budget and adjoining air temperature; and adding dust and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

How many countries are affected by desertification? ›

These regions – representing around 14 million hectares – show high sensitivity to desertification. Thirteen Member States have declared themselves affected by desertification under UNCCD: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

How many people are affected by desertification? ›

The total drylands population is 2.1 billion, meaning they are the home to one in three people in the world today.
...
Population - Homelands to a sizeable global population.
EcosystemTotal PopulationShare of Global Population
Desert101,3361.7
Semi-desert242,7804.1
3 more rows

What are the steps of desertification? ›

Water Erosion
  • Water Erosion. ...
  • Wind Erosion/Deposition. ...
  • Mining. ...
  • Vegetation Degradation.
3 Jan 2015

How has desertification impacted the world? ›

Across the world, desertification affects the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on the benefits that dryland ecosystems can provide. In drylands, water scarcity limits the production of crops, forage, wood, and other services ecosystems provide to humans.

How do deserts spread? ›

Deserts are expanding – every year they grow by an area around the size of Ireland. But it's not a natural process; it's manmade. Overgrazing, increasing agriculture, deforestation and a growing use of water are eroding the land. And it is particularly affecting parts of Africa, America or Asia.

Videos

1. Desertification, introduction, causes and precautions.
(Learn Geography)
2. Desertification: Causes, Impacts and Management Trailer
(Pumpkin Interactive)
3. What Causes Desertification? 4 Things You Must Know
(Gokce Capital)
4. What is Desertification? | Causes & Consequences | Biodiversity
(MK Academy)
5. Desertification (Causes, Impacts and Solutions)
(Jesus Padmore)
6. Desertification- Causes, Impacts & Safety measures
(VARK Learning)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Arielle Torp

Last Updated: 07/15/2022

Views: 6332

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arielle Torp

Birthday: 1997-09-20

Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

Phone: +97216742823598

Job: Central Technology Officer

Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.