In this post, we shall look into the concept of desert encroachment, what it means, what causes it, the effects it has, and the preventive measures to take to avert its occurrence. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
- define desert encroachment;
- identify the causes of desert encroachment;
- list five effects of desert encroachment; and
- mention two preventive measures of desert encroachment.
What is Desert Encroachment?
Desert encroachment is the transformation of a habitable land into a desert. It is the incursion or advancement of desert to a place that is not originally a desert.
It is usually caused by the degrading and destructive use of the land. It can also occur on natural grounds.
Desert encroachment is common in areas which are very close to the deserts, e.g. Sahel regions; areas with prolonged drought such as Sudan Savannah, North East Nigeria, Southern Niger, North West Nigeria, etc.
Causes of Desert Encroachment
The causes of desert encroachment are:
- Overgrazing: The excessive removal of the grasses by animals leaves the soil bare to desert encroachment.
- Bush burning: Burning bush also exposes the soil, leaving it at the mercy of desert encroachment.
- Shift in climatic belt: The shifting of climatic belt from one area to another may result in desert encroachment.
- Changes in climate: Desert encroachment is liable to occur in places where there are changes in climate fron partial wet climate to a dry climate.
- High speed of winds: High speed of winds across the desert carries sand and deposit them on the land e.g. harmattan wind.
- Deforestation: The cutting down of trees can also bring about desert encroachment.
Effects of Desert Encroachment
The effects of desert encroachment include:
- Loss of vegetation
- Loss of agricultural lands
- Climatic change
- Famine and hunger
- Shift in population or migration
- Death of animals or human beings
- Conflicts over farmland
- Inadequate water supply
Prevention Measures for Desert Encroachment
Desert encroachment can be prevented through:
- Controlled grazing
- Controlled tree felling/deforestation
- Effective legislation against bush burning
- Controlled use of wood as fuel
- Artificial water supply
- Environmental protection education