The Murray Foundation
Climate Impacts on Desertification and Agriculture
Dryland areas in southern Europe and countries to the south of the Mediterranean Sea are progressively being impacted by changes in climate conditions. From 1900-2005, precipitation declined in the Sahel, the Mediterranean region, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia. Over the last 40 years or so, the global area affected by drought has increased markedly, and more intense, longer droughts have been observed over much wider areas – particularly in the tropics and sub-tropics.
Observations over time show that terrestrial biomes adjust to these changing conditions – through changes in their range and species composition. This can have major impacts not only on physical processes (such as the water cycle), but also on ecosystem functions. These changes also mean that foodproduction zones are shifting, and in many regions crops and livestock are being negatively affected
Countries influenced by local or regional low rainfall conditions and desertification or desert like land areas have investigated and continued to develop research into the ecological processes in order to understand possible future climatic impacts. This understanding is also crucial for long-term agricultural development in support of local and national populations as well as export products to regional or world markets.
The development of agricultural production will be due to the close cooperation between researchers and farmers and the application of new methods of agriculture based on an understanding of the natural processes of these fragile ecosystems.
According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD, 2014) “Individual and community efforts to rehabilitate the land are at their most effective when they are part of a country-wide or regional-level effort to preserve and rehabilitate landscapes.”