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A cracked, dry lakebed with a small pool of water remaining, surrounded by mountains and lush green trees, with the sun shining brightly over the peaks, casting a warm glow across the landscape.

Desertification in Turkey as a result of incorrect land usage. | Huseyin Bostanci

Exploring Desertification and Land Restoration

June 5, 2024

Exploring Desertification and Land Restoration

Explore desertification and land restoration efforts around the world with this current events lesson plan focused on climate change and solutions to expanding deserts.

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World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 5, is all about raising awareness and taking action to protect our planet. This year, the day is focused on a really important issue: desertification and land restoration. Desertification happens when land in dry areas is degraded due to climate change and human activities, such as irrigation projects. This can seriously threaten food security, biodiversity and the lives of millions worldwide. But the good news is that there are positive actions we can take to reverse the trends. We can bring these ecosystems back to life by learning about desertification and land restoration efforts; the first step is learning how this is all happening. Explore what’s happening as a class regarding desertification, land restoration and reviving water sources. 

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  1. What is desertification, and what are its primary causes?
  2. How does desertification affect local communities and ecosystems?
  3. What are some human activities that contribute to desertification?
  4. Why is land restoration important in combating desertification?
  5. What strategies to restore degraded land are mentioned in the video?
  6. Can you think of any examples of desertification or land restoration efforts in your own community or country?
  7. What steps could the Indian government take to ensure the success of the Great Green Wall and protect the Aravalli mountains?

Extension Activity: Timelapse Comparisons

Instructions

  1. Get into groups and watch a timelapse (from 1984 to 2022) of an area affected by desertification on Google Earth. Type your location into the timelapse bar and see the process of desertification come to life.
    1. Example areas:
  2. Research Phase:
    1. Get into small groups and pick a different region or case study affected by desertification.
    2. Each group will research the state of the land before and after desertification, including causes, effects and restoration efforts.
  3. Creative/Scientific Phase: Each group has the option to choose one of the following projects to showcase its findings:
    1. Diorama: Create a three-dimensional model depicting a landscape before and after desertification. Include elements like vegetation, water sources and human activities.
    2. Scientific Report: Write a report that includes scientific data, graphs, and analysis of the causes and effects of desertification, as well as potential restoration strategies.
    3. Poem or Short Story: Craft a poem or short story that personifies the land affected by desertification, illustrating the transformation and potential for restoration. If time allows, act it out!
    4. Interactive Digital Presentation: Develop a multimedia presentation using software like PowerPoint, Prezi or Google Slides. Include images, videos and interactive elements to engage the audience.
    5. Experimental Model: Design a small-scale experiment or model demonstrating a concept related to desertification, such as soil erosion, water retention or the impact of vegetation.

Follow-Up Discussion

  • How do the visual differences between before and after restoration highlight the importance of combating desertification?
  • What common methods of land restoration did you observe in the cases discussed?
  • What do you think the No. 1 issue should be for a future World Environment Day?

Explore More: Water Revival Projects

If you want to learn more about what governments and nongovernmental agencies do to restore land and secure water sources, check out some of these links and explore what’s being done worldwide. What other projects can you find that aren’t on this list?

Lesson Plans on Climate Change

Explore more resources for educators to find a wide-range of relevant preK-12 lessons on climate change or supporting young people as they continue to lead the conversation around the climate change crisis.

Andy Kratochvil
Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, video games, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community. He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from... See More
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