Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn June 17, 1995, the United Nations declared the first World Day to Combat Desertification. Despite its name, desertification is not the advance of sandy deserts into fertile land. Desertification is “the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by human activities—including unsustainable farming, mining, overgrazing and clearcutting of land—and by climate change.”Desertification is one of the greatest environmental hazards in the world. It contributes to food shortages and the forced migration of thousands of families, as land that was once used for agriculture is lost. Each year, 12 million hectares are lost to desertification—land on which 20 million tons of grain could have been grown. Desertification conditions impact regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia to the highlands of the Andes.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry agricultural practice Noun
method used to harvest crops or care for livestock.
the art and science of cultivating the land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).
Encyclopedic Entry: agriculture clearcutting Noun
process of cutting down all the vegetation in an area, usually as part of an economic industry.
climate change Noun
gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.
Encyclopedic Entry: climate change combat Verb
Encyclopedic Entry: crop cultivate Verb
to encourage the growth of something through work and attention.
area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.
Encyclopedic Entry: desert desertification Noun
the spread of desert conditions in arid regions, usually caused by human activity.
to select a variety of options.
drip irrigation Noun
system that delivers moisture to plants by tubes with holes that drop water.
community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.
Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem environment Noun
conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.
environmental hazard Noun
extreme event that can cause lasting change to the physical landscape and human activity.
act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.
Encyclopedic Entry: erosion farming Noun
the art, science, and business of cultivating the land for growing crops.
able to produce crops or sustain agriculture.
capacity of soil to sustain plant growth; or the average number of children born to women in a given population.
Encyclopedic Entry: fertility forced migration Noun
the movement of people away from their homes due to political conflict, natural disaster or environmental hazard.
global warming Noun
increase in the average temperature of the Earth's air and oceans.
Encyclopedic Entry: global warming graze Verb
to feed on grass, usually over a wide pasture.
unit of measure equal to 2.47 acres, or 10,000 square meters.
wages, salary, or amount of money earned.
land degradation Noun
natural or human activity that wears down landforms, making them less viable.
livestock noun, plural noun
animals raised for sale and profit.
process of extracting ore from the Earth.
substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.
Encyclopedic Entry: nutrient overgrazing Noun
process of too many animals feeding on one area of pasture or grassland.
lasting, stubborn, or tenacious.
top layer of the Earth's surface where plants can grow.
able to be continued at the same rate for a long period of time.
United Nations Noun
international organization that works for peace, security and cooperation.
water scarcity Noun
situation when the amount of water available does not meet the amount of water needed or wanted by a population.