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Desertification or sustainable subsistence

We reproduce the newspaper article published by the architect Dora De Pascual, a teacher at the UM School of Architecture, in the "News on responsible construction" section of “UNO” newspaper.

New conditions

Desertification or sustainable subsistence

By Ms. Dora De Pascual -architect of the UM School of Architecture.

Landscape is given, the advance of the processes of destruction of the planet have brought serious physical, social, economic and health problems. Poverty, diseases, social exclusion, unemployment, change in human relationships, increased individualism, environmental abuse. These systematic attacks over time have made our common home, our planet, vulnerable, in intensive care.

We act as supreme beings that dominate nature and forget that the planet's time, as we know it, is running out, it is finite. But luckily, despite our abuse, it is resilient and adapts to new subsistence conditions. It accepts the loss of soils by climatic and human action, the deforestation of native and secondary forests, the reduction of the subsoil water level, the general alteration of the hydrological cycle, the greatest increase in temperatures, the greatest effects of solar radiation, the less natural regeneration of herbaceous and woody plants, the severe reduction in the productivity of natural and anthropic ecosystems and the loss of biological diversity, that is, it adapts to desertification.

However, that human beings who need their fellow men and the excessive consumption of natural resources for development, are they capable of adapting to a subsistence of desertification? Are you able to understand that their constant aggression against the planet that shelters us has a limited capacity and that their ways of life accelerate the processes of destruction of natural resources causing irreparable damage? What their actions cause environmental imbalance, health, economic and anthropological problems such as: racism worldwide and, which in one way or another, harm global society?

Generally, we do not acknowledge the impacts of our actions and we attribute desertification, for scientific reasons, to arid and dry regions in relation to climatic events. Although, we know that cities and their inhabitants are for the most part responsible for this global desertification and that the set of interrelated physical, biological, historical, economic, cultural and political processes have accelerated it. In other words, cities with their actions cause a large part of desertification, and are often responsible for the fact that in some circumstances they are triggers for climatic events that permanently affect the cycles of these arid and dry ecosystems.

Mendoza can be an example of this situation; it belongs to the group of cities of arid and dry ecosystems that was planned as a city suitable for hygiene and sustainability. It grew uncontrollably, invaded natural and productive areas; dismantled natural vegetation, eroded soil and occupied alluvial causes; It cleared hills, waterproofed soils, encouraged unsustainable agricultural practices, invited the spread of repetitive fires, introduced exotic fauna and flora. What it smore, this city devastated afforestation originally placed to protect it.

From the planning, the spontaneous and moderately designed settlement was allowed, which led to a new model of desertification and imbalance in the areas of foothills, mountains and productive belts. The soil and vegetation cover were changed to a new one, concrete, with the excuse of seeking better environmental quality and economic progress in abandoned areas. That was considered to be progress, it is possible. And if so, can we stop it? How far is it possible for us to advance in the unsustainability of deforestation and the advancement of the new urban desertification?

Another of the ways we object in terms of desertification, and perhaps mostly, is the deforestation of the dry and arid lands of the northwest of Mendoza. With regard to this, this region was where the highest density of native forests was found, which were cleared by its wood, by the retraction of surface waters, salinization, overgrazing and migration. Many times, it has been the subject of research, action plans and training for its recovery, the results of which have been limited. But, luckily, urban greed has not invaded them, they have been preserved as natural relics that contribute environmentally with their contribution from the native forest and biodiversity.

In all cases, the environmental, territorial, social, cultural imbalance was deepened and even in the adapted subsistence the risks were deepened, the loss of ancestral cultures, cultural and landscape heritage in pursuit of a better economic situation.

For this reason, remembering June 17th as WORLD DESERTIFICATION DAY forces us to become aware and observe that talking about it, is talking about facts, proposals, practices to fight for the repair or reduction of degradation, rehabilitation and recovery of desertified lands. It is not enough with the laws on environment, native forests and territorial ordering, a local effort with national and international support is necessary to implement Local and National Plans to Fight against this planetary disease that is Desertification.



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