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The process of desertification does not have climate boundaries. Justify with examples. (150 words) [2020]

Desertification is the process of fertile land turning into a desert. It occurs due to various factors, including human activities and natural processes.

Climate-independent factors

  • Deforestation: The removal of trees and vegetation leads to soil erosion and reduced water retention capacity, contributing to desertification. For example, in India, deforestation has caused the expansion of the Thar Desert.
  • Overgrazing: Excessive livestock grazing damages vegetation and exposes soil to erosion. In India’s Sundarbans region, overgrazing has degraded mangrove forests, leading to increased desertification.
  • Unsustainable agriculture: Inefficient irrigation practices and excessive use of chemical fertilizers degrade soil and cause desertification. In the Indo-Gangetic Plain, unsustainable agricultural practices result in soil salinization and desertification.

Climate-dependent factors

  • Drought: Prolonged low rainfall worsens desertification, as seen in Africa’s Sahel region. Desertification can also occur in regions with higher rainfall, such as the Amazon rainforest, due to deforestation and unsustainable land use practices.
  • Temperature extremes: Both high and low temperatures contribute to desertification. In the Arctic tundra, rising temperatures thaw permafrost, causing soil erosion and desertification.

Global examples

China: The Loess Plateau, once fertile, experienced severe desertification due to deforestation, overgrazing, and unsustainable agriculture.

Australia: The Murray-Darling Basin faces increased desertification due to water extraction for agriculture, leading to soil salinization and degradation.

In conclusion, desertification is a complex process occurring across climate zones due to human activities and natural processes. Addressing this issue requires sustainable land management practices and preserving ecosystems to maintain soil fertility and prevent further degradation.

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