Desertification--what it is and how to fix it

Why conventional "solutions" fail to reverse desertification; proven methods that work.

Index of articles and links

Desertification is an age-old problem. Since writing was invented, people have lamented landscape damage and urged better care of the land. Despite the march of science and billions spent to combat desertification, the world's deserts continue to grow.

What is desertification?

Tony & Jerrie Tipton
gullied dirt
Conventional techniques failed to revegetate this former gold mine, which had no topsoil.

cattle
After broadcasting seed, feeding hay to cattle jump-started soil-building processes.

tall grass
The restored land outperformed some nearby hayfields. On EcoResults! website. How it works

Desertification is the process by which productive land becomes unproductive desert.

Desertification: why most solutions fail. A 1-page primer by Peter Donovan. 2002.

Is overgrazing caused by too much livestock, or something else? Bonus quiz at bottom. By Peter Donovan, 2002.

Landscape brittleness (articles). Brittleness is essential to understanding why desertification happens and why conventional "solutions" fail.

The American Sahara: The New Desert Beneath Our Feet on Thomas J. Elpel's Wildflowers and Weeds website. Good article with pictures and links.

Reversing desertification

How can grazing heal land? Grazers and grasslands evolved together. When acting as they do in nature, grazers perform important ecosystem functions. By Joy Livingwell, November 2002.

Healing damaged land (section) features successful projects reversing desertification. Lots of photos.

Revegetating soilless land (articles). Even places with no soil at all can be revegetated.