Location: The Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India
Rainfall is the desert is low - between 120-240mm a year
Summer temperatures can reach over 50degrees C
Most of the desert is sandy hills with mobile sand dunes and small amounts of vegetation.
The soil is sandy and not very fertile- due to the little orgaing matter in them
-there is little surface water as the soil drains quickly
Economic Opportunities - Farming
- Most people living in the desert are involved in subsistence farming, however:
-the climate presents huge challenges, as the rainfall is unreliable so there are frequent droughts
-Most farming is subsistence farming, though some crops are sold at local markets
- The 'Kohlis Tribe' are hunter-gatherers, surviving in the desert by hunting animals and gathering fruit and natural products. This is the most basic form of farming and is very rare.
Irrigation and commercial farming
- The main form of irrigation in the desert is the Canal
-Over 3500m^2 is under irrigation
- Commercial farming producing crops such as wheat and cotton flourishes in the area.
- The canal provides drinking water to many people in the desert
Economic Opportunities - Mining and Industry, and
Mining and Industry
- The area has a rich supply of minerals
- There are valuable reserves of substances which can be used in industry, such as to make Cement, Plaster, Ceramics, Fertiliser and for whitening paper
- There are valuable reserves of stone in the area
-Limestone is particularly important in India's steel industry
-The Limestone can also be used for producing cement
- The area is increasingly popular with tourists
-the landscapes are beautiful
-desert safaris on camels are popular with foreigners as well as wealthy Indians
- Locals benefit by acting as guides or looking after camels.
- Population Pressure: The Thar Desert is the densely populated desert in the world
-the high population puts pressure on the fragile desert ecosystem, leading to overgrazing and overcultivating
- Water Management: excessive irrigation in areas has lead to waterlogging
-In these areas, Salinisation occurs - salts poisonous to plants are deposited on the surface
-excessive water demand has caused an unsustainable fall in the water tables
- Soil erosion: overgrazing and overcultivating have damaged the vegetation, leading to soil erosion from the wind and rain
- Fuel: reserves of firewood are dwindling, so people use manure as fuel rather than a fertiliser to improve soil quality
- Tourism: the environment is fragile and will suffer is tourism is overdeveloped
In 1977 the Desert Development Programme was started to provide the people with a sustainable future. The main aims were to:
- restore the ecological balance, by conserving, developing and harnessing land, water, livestock and human resources
In Rajasthan, it has been particularly concerned with developing forestry and sand stabilisation
- Forestry: The 'Prosopis cineraria' is the most important tree in the desert
-it is well suited to the hostile conditions and has multiple uses
-Scientists developed a breed of plum from a Ber tree, which produces large fruits, even with low rainfall conditions.
-The fruits could be sold for a profit
- Stabilising Sands: In some areas, the mobile sand dunes form a threat to farmland, roads and waterways.
-Approaches have been made to stabilise the dunes, such as planting blocks of trees and belts of trees and fences along roads and canals.