2016 Jun: World Desertification Day

No this isn’t about celebrating something that happens at the end of a 3 course dinner much as it may sound like it.  You might have trouble just pronouncing this tongue-twister of a word (the emphasis falls on the second syllable- de-SERT-tification  – hence it’s similarity in pronunciation to dessert) but what it means is far more serious than pudding!

What is desertification?

Desertification is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems (comprising 41% of Earth’s land area)  in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas as a result of unsustainable use of scarce resources, climatic variations and human activities.

Why is this an issue?

Desertification occurs on all continents except Antartica and affects the livelihoods of millions of people. Some 10-20% of drylands are already degraded.  If unchecked, desertification will threaten future improvements in human well-being. Therefore, desertification ranks among the greatest environmental challenges today.

Desertification is a result of a long-term failure to balance demand for and supply of ecosystem services in drylands.  The pressure is increasing to provide such services as food, forage, fuel, building materials and water for humans and livestock, for irrigation and for sanitation and the challenge is to do so without compromising our ecosystems.

The World Day to Combat Desertification has been observed since 1995 to create public awareness of desertification and drought.  It serves to remind everyone that desertification can be tackled and solutions found if there is global co-operation.

Click here to learn more about desertification.

What has this to do with Baobab trees?

 world desertification day

Baobabs live in savannah ecosystems many of which are threatened by desertification.  Although baobabs have an incredible ability to survive dry conditions they too are affected by desertification.  Lack of good ground cover leads to reduced water penetration into the soil and increased wind and water erosion.  This exposes the baobab shallow root systems and reduce its function to absorb water and support the tree.  The resultant loss of stem water increases vulnerability to disease and can lead to mortality.

baobab tree roots exposed through desertification

As important as the protection of baobab trees, is the protection of the vegetation around these magnificent trees.  Combating desertification is important for the survival of baobabs and the communities which depend on them.  EcoProducts believes in a “culture of caring” for baobabs, the environment and the community. Click on the link to find out more about our Baobab Guardian’s project and how you can contribute to planting more baobab trees!

Baobab Guardians
Mashudu Rammbasa with her new baobab seedling
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