Saturday, August 15, 2009

How do we prevent more land from turning into desert?

Paul Horton, director at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) in Public Service (UK): [Desertification is] a major problem that has wide ranging implications for all of us and more land is lost every year according to scientists and commentators. …[T]he United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has been in existence for over 15 years but despite all the best efforts, the over-riding issue is still what do we do about the situation especially when there is the over-riding conundrum of available useful land shrinking but the population increasing.

For too long debate has centred around technological fixes, yet it is the political, social, population and economic issues that are key. At the heart of the debate is land management and the re-introduction of sustainable practices (such as crop rotation), alongside conservation projects (restoring wetland or forest areas), tree planting schemes and other initiatives.

….There are a number of global issues that need to be tackled together, water scarcity, water security, pollution, ecosystem management, halting the loss of biodiversity. The UN has conventions not just to combat desertification, but also for biodiversity, wetlands and of course climate change, but are all these conventions integrated? Surely they should not only be ratified but implemented in an integrated way, with proper environmental laws. Such a goal could sit alongside proper river basin management or catchment management regulation.

…Equally it is essential that sustainability is brought into the solution not just for the countries affected who must conserve water, use sustainable farming practices and make more use of drought resistant seed crops, but also for all of us who consume products from countries affected by desertification….

Dunes in Arakao, Sahara, Niger, shot by Michael Martin, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

1 comment:

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