12 terms

Causes of Desertification

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Overgrazing
Allowing too much livestock to graze on a piece of land which means all the vegetation is eaten making the ground susceptible to wind and water erosion.
Overcultivation
If you farm land to intensively and don't have fallow periods then all the nutrients in the soil get used.
Deforestation
Cutting down trees which not only means the land will be receiving less nutrients, but it also means it is more vulnerable to erosion because there is no interception and less stability because the root systems have been removed.
Overpopulation
As the world population continues to grow (now about 7 billion) the demand for agricultural products (crops and meat) is increasing, causing more land to be deforested, overcultivated and overgrazed.
Fertiliser and Pesticide Use
By using fertilisers and pesticides you can artificially increase yields of crops. However, the process is unnatural and prolonged periods of use can all naturally produced nutrients to be used and local water sources to become polluted reducing the ability of land to cultivate crops and therefore making it vulnerable to chemical degradation as well as wind and water erosion.
HYV and GM Crops
Like with fertilisers and pesticides, it is argued that HYV and GM crops have encouraged overcultivation, diminishing natural nutrients in the soil.
Unsustainable Water Use (aquifer depletion, unsustainable irrigation)
If aquifers or rivers are used unsustainably then areas can become increasingly arid as water resources are used up. A classic example of unsustainable irrigation happened in the Aral Sea.
Toyotarisation
This is basically the increased use of 4x4s to travel across grasslands, deserts, etc. damaging topsoil and increasing wind and water erosion.
Rising Temperatures
As global temperatures increase it is becoming increasingly hard for vegetation to grow thus reducing vegetation cover and increasing the risk of wind and water erosion.
Falling Rainfall
As the amount of rainfall reduces in some areas like the Sahel, then it is increasingly hard for vegetation to grow again making the ground more vulnerable to wind and water erosion.
Flash floods
Intense periods of rainfall can also cause erosion of topsoil which leads to land degradation.
Wind
If a region is particularly windy then the amount of wind erosion is likely to increase.
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