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Desertification

  • By: William G. Moseley & Erika S. Jermé
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Desertification is a contentious term, most commonly referring to human- and climate-induced changes to dryland regions of the world resulting in a loss of their biological and economic potential. Much debate surrounds the degree to which this change is human or climate induced and whether or not the process is irreversible. Despite this contention, desertification is a significant environmental problem that has been the subject of two United Nations (UN) conventions (treaties) and scholarly attention of both physical and human geographers.

Desertification occurs when human action, frequently accompanied by less than favorable climatic trends, conspires to reduce the productive potential of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry subhumid areas of the world. Desertification occurs neither in true deserts (as it is sometimes mistakenly believed) nor in ...

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