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Desertification

  • By: Mary M. Snow
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Desertification is the unwanted expansion of desert. This process typically occurs along the margins of arid, semi-arid, and dry, sub-humid areas. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification is defined as land degradation that involves a loss of the biological or economical complexity and productivity of rain-fed cropland, range, pasture, woodlands, or forest from climate change or other anthropogenic forces. Contributing factors include drought, soil erosion, overgrazing, deforestation, warming temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns. The UNCCD was initiated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and began operating in 1994. International conferences focused on mitigating desertification are held every two years, and numerous programs have been implemented.

Impacts

An area severely impacted by desertification is the African Sahel, the semi-arid band ...

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