Publication: Assessing Desertification in Mozambique (Southern Africa) – A case study of Chicualacuala Distritic
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Web: ... ISSN:
Year: 2014 ISBN:
Language: Inglés External Link: ...
Type: Abstract
An overview of the state of desertification processes has been obtained from matching arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid lands, with degrees allegedly of “susceptibility to desertification”, and by assuming that “the drier the area, the greater the susceptibility to desertification”. Such a “susceptibility to desertification” does not correspond to a “real risk, because this takes into account factors other than climate” (Matallo Junior 1999, pg. 11). Grounding on the understanding that desertification is anthropogenic (Mainguet, 1999), we assessed susceptibility to desertification in Chicualacuala district, south-west of Mozambique (Southern Africa), employing for evidencing the effects of human activities on the natural conditions. The approach was applied in a geo-environmental diagnostics (Nascimento, 2006; 2009; 2010). The diagnostics identified the following main human activities in Chicualacuala that are relevant in desertification assessment: agriculture, livestock rearing and exploitation of vegetation resources. These activities were described in terms of management practices of the resources on which they are based. The natural influencing factors of desertification that were considered in the study are: the climate, soils, vegetation and water. These factors were described in terms of features and processes originated from impacts of human activities e.g., increased aridity, accelerated soil erosion, lowering of soil fertility, vegetation clearance or thinning of vegetation density, water shortage. To achieve the objectives, data on features or processes instigated by human activities were collected during a field campaign in 2013 and early 2014 and used in building an interpretation key of the 2013 LANDSAT image of the wet season. The field data collection consisted of observations, descriptions and geo-referencing of identified features and processes, at the level of land management unit (LMU). It included the administration of interviews to land users on land management practices carried out at the LMU. The interviews consisted of an open-end questionnaire to obtain including the land management practices, level of awareness on short, medium and long-term effects of practices on the resources base (soil, vegetation and water) as well as why land management has been driven on the basis of such practices. The data and information, recorded as geo-referenced points, were plotted on the scene of LANDSAT image which was then interpreted based on an interpretation key that is concerned with identification of land use types. To identify susceptibility to desertification we use as references the effects of human activities on the geo-biophysical environment. In the study area (Chicualacuala district), desertification is not yet clearly established, however, there are processes underway that may lead to desertification in the medium term. Degradation of vegetation is the main actual process dominating in various parts of the Chicualacuala district. The study area was classified in areas type of degradation differentiated into subclasses: areas of vegetation degradation (undifferentiated), areas type of soil degradation which are differentiated on the basis of severity or nature of degradation (sheet erosion, rill and gully erosion, and soil fertility decline and soil compaction). Besides these, also urban settlements and areas of scattered housing are shown. The understanding of susceptibility to desertification in Chicualacuala is limited by the absence of reference data particularly the agricultural production potential and natural pasture productivity/ long-term carrying capacity – which are needed to assess the effects of land management practices on the land productivity.
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