, Volume 37, Issue 1-3, pp 231-237

Desertification in Australia: An eye to grass roots and landscapes

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Desertification in some form is estimated to have occurred over about 42% of the 5 million km2 of arid and semiarid lands in Australia. The most common form of desertification is loss of perennial grasses from grasslands, savannas, and open woodlands, often with a replacement by inedible shrubs. Desertification continues to be a problem, especially during droughts when grazing pressures reduce ground cover, laying bare landscapes to wind and water erosion. But two national programs, Drought Alert and Landcare, are giving new hope in controlling land degradation. Both use a grassroots approach by promoting action through local pastoralist and farmer groups and by encouraging the use of effective techniques for rehabilitating landscapes. A strategic application of ponding banks and contour traps with an eye to the landscape has proven successful in stopping and reversing desertification processes.