Desert greening

Desert greening

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Desert greening consists of any of a number of methods used to revitalize desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

s. So far only arid and semi-arid desert are meant when using the expression. The icy-deserts and others are considered unsuitable.


  • Landscaping methods to reduce evaporation, erosion, consolidation of topsoil, sandstorms, temperature and more
  • Permaculture
    Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture...

     in general - growing of plant communities Polyculture
    Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture...

    , composting or multi trophic agriculture
  • Planting trees (Pioneer species
    Pioneer species
    Pioneer species are species which colonize previously uncolonized land, usually leading to ecological succession. They are the first organisms to start the chain of events leading to a livable biosphere or ecosystem...

    ) and salt-loving plants such as Salicornia and Halophyte
    A halophyte is a plant that grows where it is affected by salinity in the root area or by salt spray, such as in saline semi-deserts, mangrove swamps, marshes and sloughs, and seashores. An example of a halophyte is the salt marsh grass Spartina alterniflora . Relatively few plant species are...

  • Regeneration of salty, polluted, or degenerated soil
    Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...


  • Floodwater retention and infiltration (Flood control
    Flood control
    In communications, flood control is a feature of many communication protocols designed to prevent overwhelming of a destination receiver. Such controls can be implemented either in software or in hardware, and will often request that the message be resent after the receiver has finished...

  • Greenhouse agriculture like the Integrated biotectural system
    Integrated biotectural system
    An integrated biotectural system is a system which integrates natural and architectural elements. It can include desalination of sea water....

  • Seawater farming like done by the Seawater foundation
  • Inland Mariculture
    Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater. An example of the latter is the farming of marine fish,...

  • Prevention of overgrazing
    Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing for extended periods of time, or without sufficient recovery periods. It can be caused by either livestock in poorly managed agricultural applications, or by overpopulations of native or non-native wild animals.Overgrazing reduces the...

     and firewood use
  • Training of local residents to care for plantings, water systems etc.


Desert greening is more or less a function of water availability. If sufficient water for irrigation is at hand any hot, cold, sandy or rocky desert can be greened. Water can be made available through saving, reuse, rainwater harvesting, desalination, or direct use of seawater for salt-loving plants. These different paths have unique features, each: Saving water is for free - reuse of treated water and the closing of cycles is the most promising because closed cycles stand for unlimited and sustainable supply - rainwater management is a decentralized solution and applicable for inland areas - desalination is very secure as long as the primary energy for the operation of the desalination plant is available - Direct use of seawater for seawater agriculture is the most potent, only limited by the need for pumping up the water from sea-level.

There are theoretical water sources, too. Like the generation of artificial rain through cloud seeding of various kinds. An available technology called "atmospheric water generation" or air to water is used by the military and is available as micro-solution for drinking water fountains. But this technology uses 200 times more energy than modern desalination plants and cannot be considered for desert-greening.

Countering desertification

The soil of the Thar Desert
Thar Desert
The Thar Desert |Punjab]] province. The Cholistan Desert adjoins the Thar desert spreading into Pakistani Punjab province.-Location and description:...

 in India remains dry for much of the year and is prone to wind erosion. High velocity winds blow soil from the desert, depositing some on neighboring fertile lands, and causing shifting sand dunes within the desert, which buries fences and block roads and railway tracks. Permanent solution to this problem of shifting sand dunes can be provided by planting appropriate species on the dunes to prevent further shifting and planting windbreaks and shelterbelts. These solutions also provide protection from hot or cold and desiccating winds and the invasion of sand. The Rajasthan Canal system is the major irrigation scheme of the Thar Desert and is intended to reclaim it and to check spreading of the desert to fertile areas.

Prevention of shifting sand dunes is accomplished through plantations of Acacia tortilis
Acacia tortilis
Acacia tortilis, the Umbrella Thorn Acacia, also known as Umbrella Thorn and Israeli Babool, is a medium to large canopied tree native primarily to the savanna and Sahel of Africa , but also occurring in the Middle East....

near Laxmangarh
Laxmangarh or Lachhmangarh or Lakshmangarh is a town in Sikar District of Rajasthan State in India. It is sub divisional Headquarter of the Laxmangarh sub division in Sikar District. It is also Tehsil Headquarter of the Laxmangarh Tehsil in Sikar District...

 town. There are few local tree species suitable for planting in the desert region and these are slow growing. The introduction of exotic tree species in the desert for plantation has become necessary. Many species of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

, Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

, Cassia and other genera from Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

, Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, and Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 have been tried in the Thar Desert. Acacia tortilis has proved to be the most promising species for desert greening and. The jojoba
Jojoba, pronounced , is a shrub native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. It is the sole species of the family Simmondsiaceae, placed in the order Caryophyllales. It is also known as goat nut, deer nut, pignut, wild hazel, quinine nut, coffeeberry, and gray box...

 is another promising species of economic value which has been found suitable for planting in these areas.

See also

  • Desertification
    Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

  • Thar Desert
    Thar Desert
    The Thar Desert |Punjab]] province. The Cholistan Desert adjoins the Thar desert spreading into Pakistani Punjab province.-Location and description:...

  • Arid Lands Information Network
    Arid Lands Information Network
    Arid Lands Information Network is a Kenyan-based non-governmental organisation that seeks to exchange ideas and experiences among "grassroots change agents"...

  • Aridification
    Aridification is the process of a region becoming increasingly dry. It refers to long term change rather than seasonal variation.It is often measured as the reduction of average soil moisture content....

  • Deforestation
    Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

  • Ecological engineering
    Ecological engineering
    Ecological engineering is an emerging study of integrating ecology and engineering, concerned with the design, monitoring and construction of ecosystems...

  • Global warming
    Global warming
    Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

  • Oasification
    In hydrology, oasification is the antonym to desertification by soil erosion; this technique has limited application and is normally considered for much smaller areas than those threatened by desertification....

  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
    United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
    The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies...

  • Water crisis
    Water crisis
    Water crisis is a general term used to describe a situation where the available water within a region is less than the region's demand. The term has been used to describe the availability of potable water in a variety of regions by the United Nations and other world organizations...

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