Steppe or Desert

2

When I set foot on the Mongolian steppe, the view was completely different from what I expected. Turbid air, sparse grassland. Sand rolled up by wind slapping on my face made me open my eyes extremely difficultly. I saw a flock of goats in the distance. Then I asked the shepherd why steppe became desert, who was a white-haired man with rosy cheeks.” I worked in Russia before, “he said.” but because of high unemployment, I decided to return to Mongolia to graze.”

Since 1990 livestock numbers have almost doubled to 45 million animals in Mongolia. Overgrazing accounts for about 80 percent of the vegetation loss in recent years. “This is a pretty serious issue,” said Thomas Hilker, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Forestry. “Regionally, this is a huge area in which the land is being degraded and the food supply for local people is being reduced.”

Mongolia is a semi-arid region with harsh, dry winters and warm, wet summers. Just as what we have talked about in class, all elements in nature are bound together. They are indestructible. If one of them is destroyed, the whole ecosystem will be ruined. Heavy grazing results in much less vegetation cover and root biomass. So it is overgrazing that turns steppe into desert.

 

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