What is desertification? It is not specifically the expansion of existing deserts. Rather, it refers to the degradation of dry-land ecosystems caused primarily by human overexploitation, overgrazing, inappropriate water extraction and climactic variations such as declines in rainfall.
Why should we care? The arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of the planet cover 42% of the Earth’s surface, are home to 1/3rd of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and store 1/3rd of the world’s soil carbon, not to mention provide livelihoods for up to 500 million people. When this land stops being productive, biodiversity suffers, livelihoods collapse, greenhouse gas emissions increase and extreme drought, flood and sand storm events become more likely.
Samara falls into one such dry place – South Africa’s Great Karoo – “the land of Great Thirst”. In rewilding this landscape, actively restoring its biodiversity and ecosystems and sustainably managing precious resources such as soil and water, Samara is playing its part in recreating healthy land for the benefit of people and planet.
One of Samara’s projects is Spekboom restoration in areas of the reserve where decades of overgrazing by sheep and goats has caused sheet erosion and deep gulleys – as can be seen in the photograph below.
Image credits: Sacha Specker (Black Bean Productions).