Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Michael J. Jenkins


Michael J. Jenkins


Definitions of desertification have been numerous and the subject of hot debate. The definition proposed in 1991 by United Nations UNEP's Desertification Control/Programme Acting Centre (DC/PAC) was "land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry sub-humid areas resulting mainly from adverse human impact". This definition incorporates a number of processes which lead to the impoverishment of soils and vegetation, where human activity has been the main contributory factor. Examples include the loss of organic matter, increase in soil bulk density, decrease in infiltration, high levels of erosion, dunes formation, salinization, and compaction and displacement of top soil. The definition noted above acknowledges that adverse human impact is the primary cause of desertification, although such impact will be aggravated by the characteristics of dryland climates.