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DESERTIFICATION Desertification of the arid lands of the world has been proceeding--sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly-- for more than a thousand years. It has caused untold misery among those most directly caught in it's path, yet environmental destruction continues. Until recently, few if any lessons seemed to have been learned from the past, in part because the problem went unrecognized in it's early stages or was seen as a local one only affecting a small population, and in part because new lands were always available to start over again. As long as remedial action could be postponed by moving to new frontiers, land conservation held little appeal. It was not until the 20th century--when easy land expansion came to an end--that governments and people finally realized that continued careless degradation of natural resources threatened their future. What is Desertification? Desertification involves the loss of biological or economic productivity and complexity in croplands, pastures, and woodlands. It is due mainly to variability and unsustainable human activities. The most commonly cited forms of unsustainable land use are over cultivation, overgrazing, and poor irrigation practices. 70% of the world's drylands are degraded. While drought is often associated with land degradation, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs when rainfall is significantly below normal record levels for long periods of time. The Causes of Desertification Droughts A common misconception about desertification is that it spreads from a desert core like a ripple from the splash of a stone hitting water. The truth is that land degradation can and does occur... ... middle of paper ... ... desertification is just one of many pressing issues regarding the state of the environment, it is forced to split time with issues such as global warming and pollution. Until we can gain control of this issue, it becomes ever more important to educate those who are increasing it's severity, and to assist those who stand in it's way. Cited United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, UNCCD Desertification of Arid Lands http://www.ciesin,org/docs/002-193/002-193.html Desertification: Monitoring and Forecasting Office to combat Desertifcation and Drought (UNSO) International NGO Network on Desertifcation And Drought (RIOD)

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