Unit 5

Geography
What are some causes of desertification?
irrigation practices
overgrazing
ignorance
lack of crop rotation
What type of environmental change is desertification?
cumulative
What are the three types of dry lands?
True Deserts
-draught conditions year round

Semi-arid Lands/Steppe
-no draught for a portion of the year, agriculture & human habitation are possible if irrigation is available

Tropical Wet/Dry Lands
-have a short wet season in summer, dry the rest of the year

What was the focus of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification?
the relationship between human activities & variation in climate dry-land areas, and a bottom-up approach to taking action
How does the UN Convention to Combat Desertification define desertification?
combination of natural and human processes that reduces some measurable property or properties of land in arid regions
What are some causes of desertification?
-draught
-soil erosion
-overgrazing
-deforestation
-poor irrigation practices leading to salinization
-political instability
-dense human populations
What are some of the considerations that must be made when addressing issues of desertification?
-fragility of dry lands
-historical development of communities
-cultural beliefs & practices
-economic status
What causes salinization?
-if evaporation occurs at a faster rate than water inputs, salts accumulate in the top soil layers rendering it infertile

-naturally dry lands
-overirrigation (prevents salts from flushing down soil column)
-sea water incursion
-inappropriate disposal of saline wastes

Does the UNCCD employ a bottom-up or top-down approach to solving desertification?
a bottom-up approach
Why does the UNCCD approach to resolving desertification not apply well to Swaziland?
-bottom up approach develops policies & courses of action based on citizens’ experiences, in workshops, meetings, seminars etc.

Problem: usually chiefs & leaders were the representatives sent to attend these workshops, not the individuals who were most severely affected
-governments are not always neutral bodies not everyone will have a say in matters

What are some suggested means of changing agricultural practices in Sub-Saharn Africa to combat land degradation?
-increasing SOM using natural fertilizer (manure) & worms
-constructing embankments to reduce erosion
-use of cover crops
-no till farming
-mulching
What factors contribute the Sub-Saharan Africa’s inability to progress in agriculture and food production?
-don’t employ current solutions for improved land management
-financial constraints
-don’t employ their entire population (women farmers)
-scientists, farmers policy makers & general public are not working together
-poor draught management
What 3 factors affect food security?
soil quality
water availability/drought stress
climate change
Why is there a rationale for international collaboration in combating dryland desertifiation?
-scientists need to present findings in a clear manner so policy makers & development managers can use the info effectively
-need to scrutinize current hypothesis & methods, be aware of intended consequences that might exacerbate the problem
What did Vastraete et. al propose as important steps of action in combating desertification?
1. come to a consensus based on current findings examining social & biophysical degradation, consequences etc. so international community can plan further

2. regular assessment of scientific information to explore & rank scenarios that are currently, or might in the future, take place

3. Global Drylands Observing System
-better monitoring w/ indicators at different scales, focus on social & environmental variables (incl. slow-acting) associated with ecosystem services

4. Interface organizations to translate information between researchers, governments, decision making groups, local communities etc.

5. Establish & support interdisciplinary research teams to analyze issues in drylands and come up with innovative solutions

re international conventions appropriate for cumulative GECs? Systematic? Not at all?
-ensure desertification remains in the spotlight
-difficult to translate information to form sustainable development at a local level

problem: the human context is full of politics, not always correctly acknowledged

Community consultation doesn’t mean their thoughts will be acknowledged
-policies seem to address the powerful people’s needs & priorities, not the people living off the land

-political will & national politicization of degradation problems are necessary, but need to find better methods of ensuring the local community issues are thoroughly & properly addressed

What were the challenges associated with restoration of the Loess Plateau?
-the task would span multiple generations
-explaining scientific concepts to the local people
-technical & financial planning
-cultural & societal norms of the local people, resistance to new farming methods
What were some of the restoration methods implemented in restoration of the Loess Plateau?
-warping dams to fill sections with rich silt
-terraced edges to enable vegetative growth
-annuals in flat fields, perrenials on terrace
-grasses & bushes to stabilize the dunes
How did the local people benefit from the restoration of the Loess Plateau? How did they contribute?
-employment
-restoration of the economy
-source of food, means of survival

-traded labour for right to a field & its outputs
-low cost long-term leases to ensure maintenance of the region

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