Oltenian Sahara, Romania, is an region where deforestation has extended sandy areas, with the process of desertification ongoing. The causes of desertification in the region include; climate change, overgrazing, deforestation, and human activities, such as the construction of roads and buildings.
“Oltenia went drier decade after decade. As a child I remember the plains around Mileni intensely cultivated and dotted by a few ponds with shallow waters and lot of reeds. In time, the ponds were drained and irrigation channels replaced them, criss-crossing the plains. Only later on, in the 1990s I realized their effect - slowly the plains ceased to be cultivated, as water was missing from the irrigation channels. Rain became scarce. Summer heat increased dramatically. Cultivating wheat and maize was no longer an option. For a time, water melons were grown in the rapidly desertified area. A few years ago, even water melons disappeared from the landscape. Heat and winds expelled any agriculture from the area. The few spring showers covered the plains in thin, pink-blue flowering weeds. But from June onwards, the scorching heat and the whipping winds left the sand open. The barren dunes move each year closer to the village. Villagers tried to stop them by planting heat-resistant acacia trees. Few timid boscages were scattered over the area. They barely survive the heat. We collected the sand in an area where some years ago there were still cultivated water melons and honeydews.” Erwin Kessler