Turning Degraded Land into Healthy Land
Land degradation affects over two-thirds of the world today, and if left unchecked, it will erode the very foundations of our societies, economies, food security, health, safety, and quality of life. Clearly, a lot of work lies ahead of us. But we can do it. We can do it together.Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
Humans have altered nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land to meet their ever-growing demands. With the world’s population growing alarmingly, the need for land to live and feed is increasing accordingly. The greed to grow more, rampant use of fertilisers, and overexploitation of land resources result in fertile areas becoming increasingly arid. Desertification and drought are the consequences of such actions. An additional 300 million hectares of land would be required for food production by 2030, and it is feared that more than 2 billion hectares of productive land would be degraded by that time. UN stresses the importance to focus on the links between consumption and land.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought came about through the UN General Assembly in 1995 and is organised every year on June 17 and would be known as “Desertification and Drought Day” from 2020 onwards. Sustainable Development goals aim to manage natural resources and take urgent action on climate change, and Goal 15 focuses on “Life on Land” with a focus on reverse land degradation. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that reversing land degradation is achievable through community involvement and cooperation at all levels.
Desertification is a type of land degradation where biological productivity is lost due to natural processes. The development of deserts has occurred naturally. In recent times, human activity, improper land management, deforestation and climate change are influencing desertification. In the recent past, the world has seen a 25% increase in global annual dust emissions.
Global food security is being threatened by desertification and overpopulation. The more the population grows, the more food that must be produced. The growing food to meet the requirement of counties is being shifted to other countries. Europe, on average, depends on other countries for more than 50% of its food. It is resulting in the overexploitation of the land in the counties from where the food is being imported. At least 90% of the inhabitants of drylands live in developing countries struggling to cope with poor economic and social conditions.
Land restoration can contribute greatly to post-COVID19 economic recovery. Investing in land restoration creates jobs and generates economic benefits, and could provide livelihoods at a time when hundreds of millions of jobs are being lost.Ibrahim Thiaw
Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification
Forestry in India is a significant rural industry and a major environmental resource. India is one of the ten most forest-rich countries in the world. India’s forest cover grew at 0.20% annually over 1990–2000 and has raised at 0.7% per year over 2000–2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates India’s forest cover to be about 68 million hectares or 22% of the country’s area.
Humanity is waging a relentless, self-destructive war on nature. Biodiversity is declining, greenhouse gas concentrations are rising, and our pollution can be found from the remotest islands to the highest peaks. We must make peace with nature.António Guterres
It is of paramount importance to educate individuals on how to reduce the impact of excess consumption. All of us must resolve to live in congruence with our surroundings and with the just use of resources. There is hope with more and more people choosing organic foods and being aware of the consequences of overconsumption. Bringing awareness is the key to get more and more people to realise their responsibility.
Avoiding, slowing, and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is the urgent need for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet. We owe it to our future generations. We owe our children the responsibility to retain the resources for them to live happily.
Our planet is Ailing.
We must make peace with nature.
*A Toonlog on the topic was written in the year 2020
(Desertification and Drought Day)