Desertification has been threatening human survival and society development. It is the result of interaction between irrational human activities and vulnerable environment especially atrocious weather and extreme climate, tte occurrence of desertification is accompanied with extreme climate events, such as drought, high winds and sand storms etc.
Much progresses in combating desertification were made around the world. However we are still faced with serious challenges in coping with desertification, tte global climate warming and frequent and severe droughts are existing facts, and future climate change will continue to influence desertification. At the same time there are still various human-driving factors leading to deteriorating vegetation in sandy areas and extension of sand encroachment. Combating desertification is a big problem with a long time horizon and large scale, which requires more dense monitoring networks making observations more frequently, tte research on relationship between climate and occurrence, development of desertification as well as combating countermeasures should be carried out furthermore. And it will take a long time to rehabilitate the plant community to a stable status and to restore ecological system of sandy lands.
ttere are lots of opportunities to cope with desertification. In view of characteristics of desertification, some structural measures are needed. It is important to promote the measures of prohibiting reclamation, grazing and firewood collec-
tion. Successful practical technologies and models for desertification prevention and control should be popularized and applied, tte principle contains conforming to natural laws, and adopting biological, agronomical and engineering measures and combining artificial rehabilitation with human-promoted natural restoration according to local conditions. In addition, techniques for training and demonstration are useful to make farmers master and apply countermeasure to cope with desertification.
Non-structural measures could be taken by NMHSs. tte desertification monitoring in terms of meteorological conditions in desertified region should be strengthened. Moreover, further research should be carried out to clarify the relationship between climate and desertification, and combating countermeasures. tte agrometeorological information services are useful for governments and farmers to prioritize and adopt countermeasures in combating desertification.
Acknowledgements ttis research was funded by China Natural Sciences Foundation Committee 40675071, Study on Assessment of Climate and Agro-ecological Effect for Converting Farmland into Forest or Grass land Program in Shan-Gan-Ning Region nd by China Ministry of Science and Technology (2006BAD04B01). We would like to thank the colleagues in Inner Mongolia Meteorological Bureau, Ningxia Meteorological Bureau and Combating Desertification Management Center of State Forestry Administration for help in investigation, thank Dr. Zhang Li for help in editing the paper
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