Central Asia consists of the five former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan,which include a range of landscapes from mountains to steppes and deserts and is isolated by mountain ranges and the Caspian Sea. When Central Asia was part of the Soviet Union, much of the agricultural policies directed by the governments resulted in degradation of the dryland areas.
Government policies determine the nature of land use in this region thus an understanding of the political ecology of the Middle East is necessary for studying the large-scale decrease in biological productivity and its impacts. For example, Israel and the southern marshlands of Iraq are experiencing significant decrease in biological productivity, which is an indicator for dryland degradation.
Land degradation is a significant issue in South Africa (see Figure 1 and Figure 2) with 60% of the land currently degraded (UNEP, 1997) and approximately 91% of South Africa potentially susceptible to desertification (Hoffman and Ashwell 2001). Land degradation occurs in both communal lands (specifically in the steeply sloping environments adjacent to the escarpment in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape) and commercially-farmed lands due to complex socio-economic drivers, as well as climate change.
Desertification is a major problem in the drylands of India, affecting 173.64 million hectares, or 53% of the total area (Government of India 2006) and about 177 million people (Bai et al. 2008). The problem is more severe in the arid lands in the north-western part of the country, especially in the desert regions of Rajasthan, which is the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. Rajasthan has little forest cover, but is rich in flora and fauna.
The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is considered to be the “breadbasket” of Australia; roughly the size of France and Spain combined, it houses 43 percent of the country’s farms (UNCCD 2009). An ongoing drought has been incessant for the past 7 years, reducing precipitation perilously in what is already a low-nutrient ecosystem and decimating both crops and livestock (Draper 2009).. The Murray-Darling Basin provides water to roughly 65 percent of the country’s agriculture (Draper 2009)..