Deforestation and desertification. Critical development issues?

Essay, 2014
11 Pages, Grade: 1,5


Index of contents

I. Introduction

II. Explanations of the terms
II.1. Deforestation
II.2. Desertification

III. The reciprocal impact
III.1. Short term
III.2. Long-term

IV. Conclusion

V. Bibliography

Are deforestation and desertification critical development issues?

I. Introduction

Human beings destroy every year 4.2 million hectares of rain forest. The dimension of the forests is shrunk to only 1/3 of their original size. The living space of nearly 900 million animals and plants species is endangered. Furthermore 1.3 Billion people, mainly indigenous, live on the basis of an intricate environmental system. The livelihood of these people is threatened. Forests offer security against erosion, avalanches and floods. They regulate the drinking-water quality of 1/3 of the biggest cities in the world e.g. Jakarta, Sao Paulo, Lagos or Kinshasa (Hirschberger 2011,5). Forests are the most efficient carbon dioxide repository and the most powerful weapon against global warming. Particularly in developing countries (DC) like Brazil, Indonesia, Myanmar or Nigeria the rate of deforestation is increasing. This essay assumes a connection between development and deforestation. The essay differs between short term and long term effects and it will analyse how development effects deforestation as well how deforestation effects development (data shown in the paragraph by WWF-Report 2011,7).

Drought and desertification threaten the livelihood of more than 1.2 billion people across 110 countries. Around 2 billion people live in “dry-lands”, which occupy around 40 per cent of the earth´s land surface, while 90 per cent of the people who live in drylands are from DC (Kingsbury et al. 2012,314). Drought and desertification effect strongly the development of a country. The town Baga in Nigeria, was once a fisherman´s village. It was at the coast of the Tschad lake, now it is more than 30km away from the lake. The increasing desertification of the region at Tschad lake drove the city to become agriculturally centred, the outcome of desertification for the local population is significant.

This essay argues for a strong impact of “environmental” problems like desertification and deforestation on the development of a country. This Essay wants to highlight the importance of these problems for development science. The key argument of this essay is the reciprocal influence between development and environmental problems. Development often generates environmental problems, which in turn aggravates future development.

II. Explanations of the terms

II.1. Deforestation

Deforestation implies the long-term or permanent loss of forest cover and implies transformation into another land use. It includes areas of forest converted to agriculture, pasture, water reservoirs and urban areas. The term includes areas where the trees have been removed as a result of harvesting or logging, but excludes areas where the forest is expected to regenerate naturally or with the aid of silva-cultural measures. Swidden agriculture isn’t mentioned by the term deforestation. This slash-and-burn technique of agriculture is clearly damaging the environment, but after the field was in use for one season, the land is given back to nature (FAO 2010,24).

II.2. Desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) addresses desertification as a global problem. One quarter of the earth´s surface is threatened by desertification- an area of over 3,6 billion hectares. Desertification threatens the livelihood of one billion people and has already made 135 million people homeless (IFAD 2001,2). The problem also generates yearly income losses totalling USD 42 billion. Desertification is defined as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, resulting from various factors, including climate variation and human activity” (IFAD 2001,1).

III. The reciprocal impact

Environmental and developmental issues are comparatively easy to handle separately. However, combining them requires a conceptual framework which facilitates an interdisciplinary and intersectional integration and recognizes the perception of policy-makers (Falkenmark 1997,75). This essay examines a reciprocal impact between development and the environment. A study conducted by the World Bank on a large number of Third-World countries indicates that what we tend to speak of environmental problems (like deforestation or desertification) as caused by human activities on the landscape (Falkenmark 1991a,x). Men in all countries try to get access to the natural resources of their land (Water, Wind, timber, energy). Men manipulate soil, vegetation and water systems. ”Man is everywhere the disturbing agent. Wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discords.” (Marsh 1965,36). It becomes clear, that human beings have the ability to cause many environmental problems. The classical development approach often focus on the life of the poorest people in the DC. To improve the livelihood of these people you also have to focus on the problems they cause (Cairns, Elder& Costello 1996,1). Development contains in the understanding of this essay population and economical progress (higher GDP, IPC). To consider this fact this essay focuses on short-term processes between development and environmental problems and a long-term process between the created problems and further development.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

III.1. Short term

Developing countries(DC) often induces rising contamination of the environment- problems like deforestation and desertification occur. Development strategies are often affected by the structure of domestic production, economical and technological choices, institutional structures and income distribution. These variables affect energy consumption and patterns of land-use in the agricultural system, which affect the extent of environmental degradation (Adleman et al. 1997,161).


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Deforestation and desertification. Critical development issues?
University of Warwick
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
628 KB
deforestation, critical
Quote paper
Andreas Michaelis (Author), 2014, Deforestation and desertification. Critical development issues?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Deforestation and desertification. Critical development issues?

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free