Humans are driving the transformation of drylands into desert on an unprecedented scale around the world, with serious consequences. But there are solutions.
As global temperatures rise and the human population expands, more of the planet is vulnerable to desertification, the permanent degradation of land that was once arable.
While interpretations of the term desertification vary, the concern centers on human-caused land degradation in areas with low or variable rainfall known as drylands: arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid lands. These drylands account for more than 40 percent of the world's terrestrial surface area.
While land degradation has occurred throughout history, the pace has accelerated, reaching 30 to 35 times the historical rate, according to the United Nations. This degradation tends to be driven by a number of factors, including urbanization, mining, farming, and ranching. In the course of these activities,