Main content area

Oasification: An unable evasive process in fighting against desertification for the sustainable development of arid and semiarid regions of China

Xue, Jie, Gui, Dongwei, Lei, Jiaqiang, Sun, Huaiwei, Zeng, Fanjiang, Mao, Donglei, Jin, Qian, Liu, Yi
Catena 2019 v.179 pp. 197-209
agricultural land, anthropogenic activities, biomass production, climate change, cognition, desertification, economic productivity, ecosystems, environmental impact, human settlements, land degradation, land restoration, oases, semiarid zones, soil, soil erosion, soil productivity, sustainable development, vegetation cover, water supply, China
Oasification is a complex oasis expansion and ecological processes caused by climate changes and human activities under available water supply in arid and semiarid regions. The process can effectively improve soil productivity, vegetation cover, and biomass production in fighting against land degradation, such as desertification and soil erosion. However, the significance of oasification has not yet reached the general cognition compared to desertification, which is regarded as one of the most severe global eco-environmental issues. This paper identifies desertification and oasification processes and their perspectives in cognition. The implication of oasification in combating desertification and controlling land degradation is emphasized by the justification between desertification and oasification processes. As opposite process of desertification, the oasification is an unable evasive process that can provide positive environmental effects in the control of desertification, ecological restoration, and land rehabilitation. According to the interaction of climatic variations and human activities, the oasification processes is classified into six main forms: natural oasis evolution process, engineering forest construction, conversion of natural landforms into farmlands, urban encroachment, constructed environments, and coupled ecosystems. These processes gradually modify the productive capacity of soils, increase vegetation cover for restoring degraded lands, and improve the living environment for human settlement and sustainability of an oasis ecosystem. Moreover, an overview of oasification research is detailed, and Northwest China as an example is used to illustrate the progress of the oasification research in recent decades. Currently, the oasification process and its mechanistic research still remain less concern in the arid and semiarid regions. A new science framework of the oasification research is proposed to effectively deal with ecological and environmental issues in the arid and semiarid regions.