The Desert Changed My Life. It Can Change Yours, Too.
Our desert is our natural landscape, which includes more than just the desert that lies before us and our cities, towns, and homes. It includes our local parks and forests, our rivers and oceans, and even a large proportion of the land used as our national parks and our forests. It’s the entire world, one landscape, and it’s very different from, and very important to, our cities and our suburbs.
You might find yourself in a desert in the Southwest, Southwest City in Northern California, or near the Great Ocean Road in Australia’s Northern Territory. The Great Salt Desert and the Papyrus Desert, on the coast of Egypt, are part of the great desert land mass that extends from the edge of the Sahara Desert halfway around the world to the Great Rift Valley of East Africa.
What is our desert, and where is it located? When we begin our desert journey, we need to remember that deserts span a large area. The United World Deserts Report states that the earth’s total land area represents only 5.4 percent of the earth’s total area, but the desert contains 19.8 percent of the earth’s land area (UWD1).
One aspect that is very obvious is that deserts stretch throughout the world, from the arctic tundras in Canada and Siberia in the north to the middle of Africa, the southern United States, and Central America in the south; through the jungles of south-central and eastern Asia; throughout much of Australia and the southern region of New Zealand; and eventually to the southern half of South Africa.
The desert occurs at every latitude, and the climate has a greater influence on its extent and its elevation than any other land form. Deserts lie mostly above 500 m, or about a fifth of a mile in elevation.
The desert is one of the most important biological regions on our planet. The area of the earth occupied by the Sahara, where there is little vegetation, extends only to 32 degrees north latitude, but the Great Desert lies between that and latitude of 50 degrees north (UNEP/SOLID). The Sahara Desert is in Africa’s Sahel, while the Great Desert extends eastward from the equator and stretches approximately from about the northern reaches of the Sahara Desert to about the northern reaches of Pakistan.
The Great Desert is