Does the Sahelian smallholder's management of woodland, farm trees, rangeland support the hypothesis of human-induced desertification?

M. Mortimore, B. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

A simple theory of 'desertification' is found inadequate for understanding the complexity, diverse patterns and flexibility of farmers' responses to change in environmental conditions and population growth in the Sahel. These include long-term transitions in farming practices, in management of natural resources and in income diversification. This paper reviews evidence relating to deforestation, woodland and rangeland degradation to show that in certain areas, a transition to intensified land use, although initially involving a loss of woodland, has led to the planting or protection of useful trees on farms and maintained biomass levels. Livestock numbers have been maintained, despite declining rainfall and loss or apparent degradation of rangeland, by development of more integrated livestock, arable and marketing systems. The possibility of these trends having impact on Sahelian 'greening' is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-595
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Deforestation
  • Desertification
  • Drylands
  • Greening
  • Rangelands
  • Trees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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