Life on Land

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Amanda Lange Salvia, Tony Wall

Desertification: Causes and Countermeasures

Living reference work entry


Desertification is widely debated in the scientific community with respect to its definition, causes, consequences, measurement indicators, monitoring mechanisms, and prevention. Lavauden (1927) was the first to use the term “desertification” to describe the low productivity of rangelands in Tunisia. Aubréville (1949) later described the transformation of forested regions in West Africa into desert-like regions as a result of human activities (Glantz 2005; D’Odorico et al. 2013), highlighting the phenomenon in regions with an annual rainfall level of 700–1500 mm. Since then, numerous definitions have been proposed, creating some confusion around the concept of desertification. A consensual definition to desertification was proposed by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD 1994), as follows: “land degradation in arid, semiarid and subhumid areas, resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities”. However, D’Odorico et...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Interamericano de Tecnología y Ciencias del Agua– Red LermaUniversidad Autónoma del Estado de MéxicoTolucaMexico
  2. 2.Instituto Interamericano de Tecnología y Ciencias del AguaUniversidad Autónoma del Estado de MéxicoTolucaMexico

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anabela Marisa Azul
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Neuroscience and Cell BiologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal