Oasification: a forest solution to many problems of desertification

A. Martínez de Azagra, J. Mongil, L. Rojo


Desertification is a widespread process worldwide, particularly acute on deforested sloping lands under arid, semiarid or dry sub-humid conditions. To counteract this environmental threat, we have opted for an approach promoting the opposite process, which has been termed oasification. It entails the building of small earth structures to collect and infiltrate as much precipitation and runoff as possible by modifying a slope’s physiography in a convenient and non-aggressive manner. As a result, better soil moisture conditions will prevail and the chances of the establishment and growth of woody vegetation will be markedly improved, thus redressing the dangerous process of desertification. Since ancient times, many water harvesting strategies (microcatchments, ridging, terracing, etc.) have been successfully employed to check, collect and infiltrate surface runoff in those regions of the world where precipitation is scarce. All these structures can be currently designed according to enlightened hydrologic criteria based on sound knowledge of water economy, water requirements, soil erosion, building costs and landscape impacts. These criteria should help land managers and technicians in deciding the appropriate planting densities and micropond sizes that will yield the best seedling survival rates with minimal disturbance to the original physiography of the slope.


Oasification; desertification; water harvesting; soil harvesting; microcatchments; reforestation of arid and semiarid zones

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DOI: 10.5424/srf/2004133-00844

Webpage: www.inia.es/Forestsystems