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COMBATING DESRTIFICATION GLOBALLY AND IN INDIA
INTRODUCTION Desertification is a historic phenomenon; the world's great deserts were formed by natural processes interacting over long intervals of time. During most of these times, deserts have grown and shrunk independent of human activities. Paleodeserts are large sand seas now inactive because they are stabilized by vegetation, some extending beyond the present margins of core deserts, such as the Sahara. Many deserts in western Asia arose because of an overpopulation of prehistoric species and subspecies during the late Cretaceous era. Dated fossil pollen indicates that today's Sahara desert has been changing between desert and fertile savanna. Studies also show that prehistorically the advance and retreat of deserts tracked yearly rainfall, whereas a pattern of increasing amounts of desert began with humandriven activities of overgrazing and deforestation. A chief difference of prehistoric versus present desertification is the much greater rate of desertification than in prehistoric and geologic time scales; due to anthropogenic influences. Also another reason for desertification is the Sahara Desert. This desert is spreading at its fastest rate. Desertification is the degradation of land in arid and dry sub-humid areas due to various factors: including climatic variations and human activities. A major impact of desertification is reduced biodiversity and diminished productive capacity, for example, by transition from land dominated by shrublands to non-native grasslands . For example, in the semi-arid regions of southern California, many coastal sage scrub and chaparral ecosystems have been replaced by non-native, invasive grasses due to the shortening of fire return intervals. This can create a monoculture of annual grass that cannot support the wide range of animals once found in the original ecosystem In Madagascar's central highland plateau 10% of the entire country has desertified due to slash and burn agriculture by indigenous peoples. MEANING Desertification is not the advance of deserts, though it can include the encroachment of sand dunes on land. Rather, it is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by human activities and climatic variations. Because of its toll on human well -being and on the environment, desertification ranks among the greatest development challenges of our time. Desertification is defined by the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification as ³land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.´ Land degradation is in turn defined as the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity of dry lands. This report evaluates the condition of desertification in dry lands , including hyper-arid areas, by asking
pointed questions and providing answers based exclusively on the reports generated for the MA. Desertification occurs on all continents except Antarctica and affects the livelihoods of millions of people, including a large proportion of the poor in dry lands . Desertification takes place worldwide in dry lands , and its effects are experienced locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Dry lands occupy 41% of Earth¶s land area and are home to more than 2 billion people²a third of the human population in the year 2000. Dry lands include all terrestrial regions where water scarcity limits the production of crops, forage, wood, and other ecosystem provisioning services. Formally, the MA definition encompasses all lands where the climate is classified as dry sub -humid, semiarid, arid, or hyper-arid. Please see Appendix A for more details about their geography and demography. Some 10±20% of dry lands are already degraded (medium certainty). Based on these rough estimates, about 1±6% of the dry land people live in desertified areas, while a much larger number is under threat from further desertification. Scenarios of future development show that, if unchecked, desertification and degradation of ecosystem services in dry lands will threaten future improvements in human well-being and possibly reverse gains in some regions. Therefore, desertification ranks among the greatest environmental challenges today and is a major impediment to meeting basic human needs in dry lands. Persistent, substantial reduction in the provision of ecosystem services as a result of water scarcity, intensive use of services, and climate change is a much greater threat in dry lands than in non-dry land systems. In particular, the projected intensification of freshwater scarcity as a result of climate change will cause greater stresses in dry lands. If left unmitigated, these stresses will further exacerbate desertification. The greatest vulnerability is ascribed to subSaharan and Central Asian dry lands . For example, in three key regions of Africa²the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Africa²severe droughts occur on average once every 30 years. These droughts triple the number of people exposed to severe water scarcity at least once in every generation, leading to major food and health crises. Desertification is a result of a long-term failure to balance demand for and supply of ecosystem services in dry lands . The pressure is increasing on dry land ecosystems for providing services such as food, forage, fuel, building materials, and water for humans and livestock, for irrigation, and for sanitation. This increase is attributed to a combination of human factors and climatic factors. The former includes indirect factors like population pressure, socioeconomic and policy factors, and globalization phenomena like distortions to international food markets and direct factors like land use patterns and practices and climaterelated processes. The climatic factors of concern include droughts and projected reduction in freshwater availability due to global warming. While the global and regional interplay of these factors is complex, it is possible to understand it at the local scale.
Historical and current desertification Overgrazing and to a lesser extent drought in the 1930s transformed parts of the Great Plains in the United States into the "Dust Bowl" During that time, a considerable fraction of the plains population abandoned their homes to escape the unproductive lands. Improved agricultural and water management have prevented a disaster of the earlier mag nitude from recurring, but desertification presently affects tens of millions of people with primary occurrence in the lesser developed countries. Desertification is widespread in many areas of the People's Republic of China. The populations of rural areas have increased since 1949 for economic reasons as more people have settled there. While there has been an increase in livestock, the land available for grazing has decreased. Also the importing of European cattle such as Friesian and Simmental, which have higher grazing intensity, has exacerbated matters. uman overpopulation is leading to destruction of tropical wet forests and tropical dry forests, due to widening practices of slash-and-burn and other methods of subsistence farming in lesser developed countries. A sequel to the deforestation is typically large scale erosion, loss of soil nutrients and sometimes total desertification. Examples of this extreme outcome can be seen on Madagascar's central highland plateau, where about seven percent of the country's total land mass has become barren, sterile land. Another example of desertification occurring is in the Sahel. The chief cause of desertification in the Sahel is described to be slash-and-burn farming in which soil degration is increased do to winds removing unprotected topsoil. Decreases in rainfall are also a cause as well as destruction of local perennials. The Sahara is expanding south at a rate of up to 48 kilometres per year. Ghana and Nigeria currently experience desertification; in the latter, desertification overtakes about 1,355 square miles (3,510 km2) of land per year. The Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, are also affected. More than 80% of Afghanistan's and Pakistan's land could be subject to soil erosion and desertification. In Kazakhstan, nearly half of the cropland has been abandoned since 1980. In Iran, sand storms were said to have buried 124 villages in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in 2002, and they had to be abandoned. In Latin America, Mexico and Brazil are affected by desertification. CAUSES OF DESERTIFICATION Desertification occurs when the tree and plant cover that binds the soil is removed. It occurs when trees and bushes are stripped away for fuel wood and timber, or to clear land for cultivation. It occurs when animals eat away grasses and erode topsoil with their hooves. It occurs when intensive farming depletes the nutrients in the soil. Wind and water erosion aggravate the damage, carrying away topsoil and leaving behind a highly infertile mix of dust
and sand. It is the combination of these factors that transforms degraded land into desert. There are many factors that contribute to desertification. Prolonged periods of drought can take a severe toll on the land. Conflict can force people to move into environmentally fragile areas, putting undue pressure on the land. Mining can cause damage. In the coming years, climate change will accelerate the rate of desertification in some areas, such as the drier areas of Latin America. Desertification is caused by a combination of factors that change over time and vary by location. These include indirect factors such as population pressure, socioeconomic and policy factors, and international trade as well as direct factors such as land use patterns and practices and climate-related processes. Desertification is taking place due to indirect factors driving unsustainable use of scarce natural resources by local land users. This situation may be further exacerbated by global climate change. Desertification is considered to be the result of management approaches adopted by land users, who are unable to respond adequately to indirect factors like population pressure and globalization and who increase the pressure on the land in unsustainable ways. This leads to decreased land productivity and a downward spiral of worsening degradation and poverty Social, economic, and policy factors that contribute to desertification 1. Social, Economic, and Policy Factors Policies leading to unsustainable resource use and lack of supportive infrastructure are major contributors to land degradation. Conversely, this makes public policies and physical infrastructure useful intervention points. Thus agriculture can play either a positive or a negative role, depending on how it is managed. This in turn depends on the socioeconomic resources available, the policies adopted, and the quality of governance. Local institutions, such as community-based land-use decision-making bodies and social networks, can contribute to preventing desertification by allowing land users to manage and use ecosystem services more effectively through enhanced access to land, capital, labor, and technology. Policies to replace pastoralism with sedentary cultivation in rangelands can contribute to desertification.Policies and infrastructure that promote farming in rangelands that cannot sustain viable cropping systems contribute to desertification. The majority of dryland areas (65%) are rangelands that are more suited to sustainable pastoralism than crop production. For example, nomadic pastoralism is a rangeland management practice that over the centuries has proved to be sustainable and suited to the ecosystem carrying capacity. Sedentarization of nomads in marginal dry lands and other limitations to their transboundary movement lead to desertification because they reduce people¶s ability to adjust their economic activities in the face of stresses such as droughts .
Land tenure practices and policies that encourage land users to overexploit land resources can be important contributors to desertification. When farmers and herders lose control or long-term security over the land they use, the incentives for maintaining environmentally sustainable practices are lost. Problems of water scarcity, groundwater depletion, soil erosion, and salinization have all been recognized as outcomes of deeper policy and institutional failures. Security of tenure does not necessarily imply private property rights; many long-established collective and community-based management practices have operated quite effectively. 2. Globalization Phenomena Many ongoing processes of globalization amplify or attenuate the driving forces of desertification by removing regional barriers, weakening local connections, and increasing the interdependence among people and between nations. Globalization can either contribute to or help prevent desertification, but it creates stronger links between local, national, sub-regional, regional, and global factors related to desertification. Studies have shown that trade liberalization, macroeconomic reforms, and a focus on raising production for exports can lead to desertification. In other cases, enlarged markets can also contribute to successful agricultural improvements. For example, a large share of the European Union Àower markets is supplied with imports from dryland countries (such as Kenya and Israel) . Global trade regimes and linked government policies inÀuence food production and consumption patterns significantly and affect directly or indirectly the resilience of dryland ecosystems.Improved access to agricultural inputs (like fertilizers, pesticides, and farm machinery) and export markets typically boosts productivity. Opportunities to gain access to international markets are conditioned by international trade and food safety regulations and by a variety of tariff and nontariff barriers. 3. Land Use And Desertification Land use changes are responses to changes in the provision of ecosystem services, and they also cause changes in this provision. Historically, dryland livelihoods have been based on a mixture of hunting, gathering, cropping, and animal husbandry. This mixture varied in composition with time, place, and culture. The harsh and unpredictable climate combined with changing socioeconomic and political factors has forced dryland inhabitants to be Àexible in land use. Population pressure, however, has led to a growing tension between two main land uses: pastoral rangeland and cultivated land use. In some areas, this led to intercultural conÀicts and desertification as herders and farmers claim access to and use of the same land. In other cases, it led to synergistic interaction and integration between the two land uses, with herders cultivating more land, farmers holding more livestock, and an increased exchange of services between the two groups. Irrigation has led to increased cultivation and food production in dry lands, but in many cases this has been unsustainable without extensive public capital investment.
Large-scale irrigation has also resulted in many environmental problems² such as waterlogging and salinization, water pollution, eutrophication, and unsustainable exploitation of groundwater aquifers²that degrade the dry lands¶ service provisioning. In such irrigation approaches, rivers are often disconnected from their Àoodplains and other inland water habitats, and groundwater recharge has been reduced. These human-induced changes have in turn had an impact on the migratory patterns of fish species and the species composition of riparian habitat, opened up paths for exotic species, changed coastal ecosystems, and contributed to an overall loss of freshwater biodiversity and inland fishery resources. Frequent and intensive fires can be an important contributor to desertification, whereas controlled fires play an important role in the management of dryland pastoral and cropping systems. In both cases, the use of fire promotes the service of nutrient cycling and makes nutrients stored in the vegetation available for forage and crop production. For example, dryland pastoralists use controlled fire to improve forage quality, and dryland farmers use fire to clear new land for cultivation. Conversely, fires can be an important cause of desertification in some regions when they affect natural vegetation. Excessive intensity and frequency can lead to irreversible changes in ecological processe and, ultimately, to s desertification. The consequences of such changes include the loss of soil organic matter, erosion, loss of biodiversityand habitat changes for many plant and animal species.
DESERTIFICATION AND ITS EFFECT The effects of desertification can be devastating. Desertification reduces the land¶s resilience to natural variations in climate. It disrupts the natural cycle of water and nutrients. It intensifies strong winds and wildfires. The effects of dust storms and the sedimentation of water bodies can be felt thousands of kilometres away from where the problems originated. The cost of desertification is high, and not just in economic terms. Desertification is a threat to biodiversity. It can lead to prolonged episodes of famine in countries that are already impoverished and cannot sustain large agricultural losses. Poor rural people who depend on the land for survival are often forced to migrate or face starvation. Desertification not only means hunger and death in the developing world, it also increases threats to global security for everyone. War, social disorder, political instability and migration can all result from scarce resources. For millions of people, halting desertification is a matter of life and death. Desertification is not always inevitable. Human factors, such as overgrazing and clear-cutting of land, can be controlled by improving agricultural and grazing practices. Other factors, such as rising temperatures, can be predicted and dealt with proactively. Degraded land can sometimes be rehabilitated and its fertility restored. In many cases, the best methods of rehabilitating land involve using traditional or indigenous knowledge and land management techniques. But rehabilitation efforts can fail or eventually have a negative impact on
ecosystems, human well-being and poverty reduction. It is less costly, and less risky, to limit the damage in the first place. Geographical Extent of Desertification Desertification is occurring in dry lands all over the world. Estimates for total global dry land area affected by desertification vary significantly, depending on the calculation method and on the type of land degradation included in the estimate. Despite the importance of desertification, only three exploratory assessments of the worldwide extent of land degradation are available.
The most well known study is the Global Assessment of Soil Degradation from 1991 that estimated soil degradation based on expert opinion. It reported that 20% of the dry lands (excluding hyper-arid areas) were suffering from human-induced soil degradation. Another estimate from the early 1990s, based primarily on secondary sources, reported 70% of dry lands (excluding hyper-arid areas) were suffering from soil and or vegetation degradation. A partial-coverage assessment from 2003, developed as a desk study from partly overlapping regional data sets and remote sensing data, estimated that 10% of global dry lands (including hyper-arid areas) are degraded.
Poverty and Vulnerability of the Affected Population Dry land populations, at least 90% of who live in developing countries, on average lag far behind the rest of the world in human well-being and development indicators. Compared with other systems studied in the MA, dry land populations suffer from the poorest economic conditions. The GNP per capita of OECD countries exceeds that of developing dry land countries almost by an order of magnitude. Similarly, the average infant mortality rate (about 54 per 1,000) for all dry land developing countries exceeds that for non-dry land countries (forests, mountains, islands, and coastal areas) by 23% or more. The low level of human well-being and high poverty of dry land populations vary according to level of aridity and global region. This is further exacerbated by high population growth rates in dry lands. For example, the population in dry lands grew at an average rate of 18.5% during the 1990s²the highest growth rate of any MA system. A number of policy factors also contribute to the poor human well-being, such as political marginalization and the slow growth of health and education infrastructure, facilities, and services. Dry land populations are often socially and politically marginalized due to their impoverishment and remoteness from centers of decision-making. This holds true even in some industrial countries. As a consequence, these dry land populations are frequently unable to play a significant role in political decision-making processes.
Regional and Global Consequences of Desertification beyond Dry lands Desertification has environmental impacts at the global and regional scale. Affected areas may sometimes be located thousands of kilometers away from the desertified areas. Desertification-related processes such as reduction of vegetation cover, for instance, increase the formation of aerosols and dust. These, in turn, affect cloud formation and rainfall patterns, the global carbon cycle, and plant and animal biodiversity. An increase in desertification-related dust storms is widely considered to be a cause of ill health (fever, coughing, and sore eyes) during the dry season. Dust emanating from the East Asian region and the Sahara has also been implicated in respiratory problems as far away as North America and has affected coral reefs in the Caribbean. (Dust storms can also have positive impacts, however; for example, air-transported dust deposits from Africa are thought to improve soil quality in the Americas). Finally, reduction of vegetation cover in dry lands leads to destructive Àoods downstream and excessive clay and silt loads in water reservoirs, wells, river deltas, river mouths, and coastal areas often located outside the dry lands . The societal and political impacts of desertification also extend to non-dry land areas. Droughts and loss of land productivity are predominant factors in movement of people from dry lands to other areas, for example (medium certainty). Such migration may exacerbate urban sprawl and by competing for scarce natural resources bring about internal and crossboundary social, ethnic, and political strife. Desertification-induced movement of people also has the potential of adversely affecting local, regional, and even global political and economic stability, which may encourage foreign intervention DESERTIFICATION AND HUMAN WELL-BEING Desertification is potentially the most threatening ecosystem change impacting livelihoods of the poor. Persistent reduction of ecosystem services as a result of desertification links land degradation to loss of human well-being. The basic materials for a good life for most dry land people have their origin in biological productivity. More people in dry lands than in any other ecosystem depend on ecosystem services for their basic needs. Crop production, livestock and dairy production, growth of fuel wood, and construction materials all depend on plant productivity, which in dry lands is constrained by water availability. Thus it is the dry land climate that constrains viable livelihood opportunities. Practices like intensified cultivation in areas that do not have an adequate level of supporting services (soil fertility, nutrients, and water supply) thus require adjustments in management practices or costly imports of nutrients and water . Fluctuation in the supply of ecosystem services is normal, especially in dry lands, but a persistent reduction in the levels of all services over an extended period constitutes desertification. Large inter-annual and longer-term climatic variations cause Àuctuations in crop, forage, and water yields.
CONSEQUENCES OF DESERTIFICATION Manifestations of Desertification The manifestations of desertification are apparent in all categories of ecosystem services: provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting. Some of these services are typically measured and quantified, such as food, forage, fiber, and fresh water; others may be inferred or implied through qualitative analysis. In desertified areas, people have responded to reduced land productivity and income by either increased use of other relatively marginal land (not yet degraded but having lower productivity) or by transforming more rangeland to cultivated land. Since policies to promote alternative livelihood opportunities are commonly not in place, migration to unaffected areas subsequently occurs. Initially it is from rural to urban areas, and then to locations of greater economic opportunity in other countries. These migrations sometimes exacerbate urban sprawl and can bring about internal and crossboundary social, ethnic, and political strife. In many semiarid areas, there is a progressive shift occurring from grassland to shrubland that exacerbates soil erosion. During the second half of the nineteenth century, large-scale commercial stockbreeding quickly spread over the semiarid dry lands of North and South America, South Africa, and Australia. Both the kind of imported herbivore and type of grazing management (including fire prevention) were not adjusted to the semiarid ecosystems. The resulting disturbance was therefore a ³transition trigger´ that, combined with drought events, led to a progressive dominance of shrubs over grass (sometimes called ³bush encroachment´).
COMBATING DESERTIFICATION ³The human community faces an array of choices about the quality of our lives and the state of the global environment. Each of those choices will help to determine what kind of world our children and grandchildren will live in´. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General. Measures to combat desertification should have and social objectives. Here is a checklist of how to achieve more sustainable land-uses. Solution: Raising awareness of the problem The Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted on 17 June 1994 and in commemoration of this event ³World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought,´ is observed every year on 17 June. The purpose of the World Day is to raise awareness of desertification and to encourage actions that would remedy some of the consequences of desertification and prevent further degradation and loss of soil and water. At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Convention to Combat Desertification was singled out as a key instrument for poverty eradication in dry land rural areas. The degradation of dry lands is hindering efforts to overcome poverty and hunger and if not reversed will impede the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The declaration of 2006 as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD) highlighted the concern about desertification. All countries were encouraged to undertake special initiatives to mark the Year and through these efforts to raise awareness of desertification. The International Film Festival entitled µDesert Nights - Tales from the Desert¶ in Rome in December 2006 is an example of one such awareness±raising initiative. Solution: Planting and protecting indigenous trees and shrubs The benefit of trees is enormous when it comes to preventing desertification or restoring already degraded land. The first step in halting desertification is usually the planting of trees to: stabilise the soil protect it from excessive sunshine, strong winds and the progression of sand intercept the rainfall and protect the soil from splash erosion retain moisture and help local recycling of rainfall ± water trickles down through the canopy and is absorbed by the humus layer replenish soil nutrients absorb carbon dioxide The over-exploitation of indigenous trees and the introduction of non-native species can lead to ecological disturbance. Indigenous trees and plants have special adaptations to local situations and benefit local wildlife. In Ireland, for example, the Oak tree can host up to 400
different insects and it is the climax vegetation in the Irish oakwood ecosystem. The introduction of Rhodendrum has upset this balance in some native oakwoods. In dry lands woody desert trees, such as acacias, evade drought by shedding their leaves as the dry season sets in. Many dry land species have deep taproots that explore deep underground water layers and many are leguminous* species which improve soil fertility. Regeneration of endangered indigenous species is important. One method of encouraging natural regeneration is through the establishment of temporary enclosures. It is essential that this plan is in harmony with the wishes of the users. Another method is the establishment of seed or gene banks, places where seeds are stored for short-term use in farming or for long-term preservation. When attempts to introduce exotic species into Tunisia as a way of improving degraded soil were unsuccessful attention turned to indigenous pastoral plants. A gene bank of indigenous arid and desert rangeland plant species was created in the Arid Regions Institute in Tunisia in 1986. This gene bank has been included within the national programmes to combat desertification and the national programmes for biodiversity. Community Forests The objective of community forestry is to meet the needs of people in a way that is sustainable by making forest products available to them. Local people gain rights to use and manage the forest for their own benefit. The community projects can also include roadside planting, and planting around homesteads, schools, hospitals, churches, mosques, sacred areas, parks and riverbanks. The involvement of schools helps to raise awareness of tree planting. Trees and shrubs while playing an important role in improving soils, protecting watersheds, reducing salinisation and modifying climate are also producing food and highvalue forest products for local communities. Solution: Developing sustainable agricultural practices By increasing the number of trees in agricultural areas, farmers live in harmony with their environment. The land benefits from the farmers¶ presence and the farmers benefit from their own control of desertification. Agro forestry is a practice which integrates high-value multipurpose trees and shrubs into farming systems. Agro forestry systems include alleycropping, windbreaks, riparian buffer strips, and forest farming. The trees shelter land and livestock, provide wildlife habitat and control soil erosion. Leguminous species improve soil fertility, fruit trees provide nutrition, trees, like the Acacia Senegal, provide gum and medicine and different palatable trees provide fodder. Solution: Using alternative sources of energy Sustainable energy use means ensuring enough energy supply for present and future generations, while at the same time protecting the environment. This can be done by using renewable sources of energy, and by being more careful about energy use. Fast-growing, drought-and salt-tolerant, and with remarkable coppicing power, prosopsis is a natural fuel wood in arid and semi-arid areas. The wood has been called ³wooden anthracite´, because of its high heat content. The pressure on natural vegetation cover can be reduced through the
development of alternative sources of energy and through improving the efficiency of existing energy use. Improved ovens with slow-burning wood are one way to save energy. In Eritrea Concern promoted the use of fuel saving stoves, known as mogogos. Coppicing is the art of cutting of trees and shrubs to ground level allowing vigorous regrowth and a sustainable supply of timber for future generations. Solution: Mobilizing and involving people The Convention stresses that people who suffer the impact of desertification, and who best understand the ecosystems in which they live, must be involved in decisions about how to restore damaged land and prevent further degradation. The Convention calls for the building of partnerships comprising affected populations and their representatives, the national government, and bilateral and multilateral donors. The purpose of the partnerships is to develop National Action Programmes to tackle the problem of desertification. The Convention states that traditional and local technologies and know-how should be protected. Local populations should benefit directly from any commercial use of their techniques. Over the years local populations in Africa have developed techniques for managing soil and water, domesticating plants and animals, and for forecasting the weather. Technical innovations are often brought in from more humid environments without regard for the equilibrium of dryland ecosystems. Solution: Development of local crops and rural markets The convention proposes the promotion of drought-resistant and salt-resistant crops and the development of rural markets. Attention should be paid to local plants whether they have already been domesticated or not. It is important to grow a wide variety of plants that are suited to local conditions. Bio-diversity of crops helps to ensure both healthy soil and foodsecurity. Organic growing should also be encouraged as this system reduces the damage to the land and alleviates some of the negative impacts of monocropping. Local markets are needed to encourage local trade and the production of local goods, both agricultural and nonagricultural. An emphasis on the export of unprocessed commodities has a detrimental effect on local economics. If this situation could be changed more income could be earned without so much damage to the soil. As part of Concern¶s Livelihoods Programmes in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone access to markets has been improved through the provision and rehabilitation of bridges and feeder roads. National Action Programmes should give particular attention to protecting lands not yet degraded, and devise early drought-warning systems.
ACTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO AVOID DESERTIFICATION The creation of a ³culture of prevention´ can go a long way toward protecting dry lands from the onset of desertification or its continuation.The culture of prevention requires a change in governments¶ and peoples¶ attitudes through improved incentives. Young people can play a key role in this process. Evidence from a growing body of case studies demonstrates that dryland populations, building on long-term experience and active innovation, can stay ahead of desertification by improving agricultural practices and enhancing pastoral mobility in a sustainable way. For example, in many areas of the Sahel region, land users are achieving higher productivity by capitalizing on improved organization of labor, more extensive soil and water conservation, increased use of mineral fertilizer and manure, and new market opportunities . Integrated land and water management are key methods of desertification prevention. All measures that protect soils from erosion, salinization, and other forms of soil degradation effectively prevent desertification. Sustainable land use can address human activities such as overgrazing, overexploitation of plants, trampling of soils, and unsustainable irrigation practices that exacerbate dryland vulnerability. Management strategies include measures to spread the pressures of human activities, such as transhumance (rotational use) of rangelands and well sites, stocking rates matched to the carrying capacity of ecosystems, and diverse species composition. Improved water management practices can enhance water-related services. These may include use of traditional water-harvesting techniques, water storage, and diverse soil and water conservation measures. Maintaining management practices for water capture during intensive rainfall episodes also helps prevent surface runoff that carries away the thin, fertile, moisture-holding topsoil. Improving groundwater recharge through soil-water conservation, upstream revegetation, and Àoodwater spreading can provide reserves of water for use during drought periods . Protection of vegetative cover can be a major instrument for prevention of desertification. Maintaining vegetative cover to protect soil from wind and water erosion is a key preventive measure against desertification. Properly maintained vegetative cover also prevents loss of ecosystem services during drought episodes. Reduced rainfall may be induced if vegetation cover is lost due to overcultivation, overgrazing, overharvesting of medicinal plants, woodcutting, or mining activities. This is usually coupled with the effect of reduced surface evapotranspiration and shade or increased albedo.. In the dry subhumid and semiarid zones, conditions equally favor pastoral and cropping land use.Rather than competitively excluding each other, a tighter cultural and economic integration between the two livelihoods can prevent desertification. Mixed farming practices in these zones, whereby a single farm household combines livestock rearing and cropping, allows a more efficient recycling of nutrients within the agricultural system. Such interactions can lower livestock pressure on rangelands through fodder cultivation and the provision of stubble to supplement livestock feed during forage scarcity (and immediately after, to allow plant regeneration) due to within- and between-years climatic variability. At
the same time, farmland benefits from manure provided by livestock kept on fields at night during the dry season. Many West African farming systems are based on this kind of integration of pastures and farmland. Use of locally suitable technology is a key way for inhabitants of dry lands at risk of desertification to work with ecosystem processes rather than against them. Applying a combination of traditional technology with selective transfer of locally acceptable technology is a major way to prevent desertification. Conversely, there are numerous examples of practices²such as unsustainable irrigation techniques and technologies and rangeland management, as well as growing crops unsuited to the agroclimatic zone²that tend to accelerate, if not initiate, desertification processes. Thus technology transfer requires in-depth evaluation of impacts and active participation of recipient Local communities can prevent desertification and provide effective dryland resource management but are often limited by their capacity to act. Drawing on cultural history and local knowledge and experience, and reinforced by science, dryland communities are in the best position to devise practices to prevent desertification. However, there are many limitations imposed on the interventions available to communities, such as lack of institutional capacity, access to markets, and financial capital for implementation. Enabling policies that involve local participation and community institutions, improve access to transport and market infrastructures, inform local land managers, and allow land users to innovate are essential to the success of these practices. For example, a key traditional adaptation was transhumance for pastoral communities, which in many dryland locations is no longer possible. Loss of such livelihood options or related local knowledge limits the community¶s capacity to respond to ecological changes and heightens the risk of desertification Desertification can be avoided by turning to alternative livelihoods that do not depend on traditional land uses, are less demanding on local land and natural resource use, yet provide sustainable income. Such livelihoods include dryland aquaculture for production of fish, crustaceans and industrial compounds produced by microalgae, greenhouse agriculture, and tourism-related activities. They generate relatively high income per land and water unit in some places. Dryland aquaculture under plastic cover, for example, minimizes evaporative losses, and provides the opportunity to use saline or brackish water productively. Alternative livelihoods often even provide their practitioners a competitive edge over those outside the dry lands, since they harness dryland features such as solar radiation, winter relative warmth, brackish geothermal water, and sparsely populated pristine areas that are often more abundant than in non-dry lands. Implementation of such practices in dry lands requires institution building, access to markets, technology transfer, capital investment, and reorientation of farmers and pastoralists. Desertification can also be avoided by creating economic opportunities in dry lands urban centers and areas outside dry lands. Changes in overall economic and institutional settings that create new opportunities for people to earn a living could help relieve current
pressures underlying the desertification processes. Urban growth, when undertaken with adequate planning and provision of services, infrastructure, and facilities, can be a major factor in relieving pressures that cause desertification in dry lands. This view is relevant when considering the projected growth of the urban fraction in dry lands, which will increase to around 52% by 2010 and to 60% by 2030. KEY CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE Persistent, substantial reduction in the provision of ecosystem services as a result of water scarcity, intensive use of services, and climate change is a much greater threat in dry lands than in non-dryland systems. The greatest vulnerability is ascribed to sub-Saharan and Central Asian dry lands. For example, in three key regions of Africa²the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and Southeast Africa²severe droughts occur on average once every 30 years. These triple the number of people exposed to severe water scarcity at least once in every generation, leading to major food and health crises. Unconditional, free supply of food or water to the vulnerable dryland people can have the unintended effect of increasing the risk of even larger breakdowns of ecosystem services. The projected intensification of freshwater scarcity will cause greater stresses in dry lands. If left unmitigated, these stresses will further exacerbate desertification. Water scarcity affects approximately 1±2 billion people today, most of them in dry lands. This leads to overexploitation of surface and ground-water resources and eventually magnifies problems related to desertification. Freshwater availability in dry lands is projected to be further reduced from the current overall average of 1,300 cubic meters per person per year. While this average figure masks great variations, it is already well below the lowest threshold of 2,000 cubic meters required for human well-being and sustainable development . The prospects for implementing the UNCCD differ significantly under the four MA scenarios. Implementation will be the most difficult in a regionalized-reactive world, while prospects improve in a more globalized world and with proactive ecosystem management. The four MA scenarios give an indication of how effectively the UNCCD directives can be implemented by the affected countries when operating under broadly different management approaches. In a regionalized world with only reactive environmental management, the scope for global environmental agreements is rather poor. In this reactive management mode, desertification will likely increase further before its impacts²massive famines and environmental and hunger refugees²trigger a significant response. A globalized world provides a more favorable situation for implementation of the UNCCD at the global scale through facilitation in the Àow of resources and technologies, but here too it will depend which kind of overall management approaches are favored
LINK BETWEEN DESERTIFICATION, GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, AND BIODIVERSITY LOSS Desertification is associated with biodiversity loss and contributes to global climate change through loss of carbon sequestration capacity and an increase in land-surface albedo. Biological diversity is involved in most services provided by dryland ecosystems and is adversely affected by desertification. Most important, vegetation and its diversity of physical structure are instrumental in soil conservation and in the regulation of rainfall infiltration, surface runoff, and local climate. Different plant species produce physically and chemically different litter components and, together with a diverse community of micro- and macro-decomposers, contribute to soil formation and nutrient cycling. The species diversity of vegetation supports both livestock and wildlife. All plants support primary production that ultimately provides food, fiber, and fuelwood and that sequesters carbon, thus regulating global climate. Excessive exploitation of vegetation leads to losses in primary production and hence also to reduced carbon sequestration. It is the disruption of the interlinked services jointly provided by dryland plant biodiversity that is a key trigger for desertification and its various manifestations, including the loss of habitats for biodiversity (See Figure 6.1). The major components of biodiversity loss (in green) directly affect major dryland services (in bold). The inner loops connect desertification to biodiversity loss and climate change through soil erosion. The outer loop interrelates biodiversity loss and climate change. On the top section of the outer loop, reduced primary production and microbial activity reduce carbon sequestration and contribute to global warming. On the bottom section of the outer loop, global warming increases evapotranspiration, thus adversely affecting biodiversity; changes in community structure and diversity are also expected because different species will react differently to the elevated CO2 concentrations. Desertification affects global climate change through soil and vegetation losses. Dryland soils contain over a quarter of all of the organic carbon stores in the world as well as nearly all the inorganic carbon. Unimpeded desertification may release a major fraction of this carbon to the global atmosphere, with significant feedback consequences to the global climate system. It is estimated that 300 million tons of carbon are lost to the atmosphere from dry lands as a result of desertification each year (about 4% of the total global emissions from all sources combined) (medium certainty) The effect of global climate change on desertification is complex and not sufficiently understood.Climate change may adversely affect biodiversity and exacerbate desertification due to increase in evapotranspiration and a likely decrease in rainfall in dry lands (although it may increase globally). However, since carbon dioxide is also a major resource for plant productivity, water use fiefficiency will significantly improve for some dryland species that can favorably respond to its increase. These contrasting responses of different dryland plants to the increasing carbon dioxide and temperatures may lead to changes in species composition and abundances. Therefore, although climate change may increase aridity and
desertification risk in many areas (medium certainty), the consequent effects on services driven by biodiversity loss and, hence, on desertification are fidifficult to predict (C22.5.3). Due to strongly interlinked issues and policies between desertification, biodiversity loss, and climate change, joint implementation of the UNCCD, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Framework Convention on Climate Change can yield multiple benefits. Environmental management approaches for combating desertification, conserving biodiversity, and mitigating climate change are linked in numerous ways. Typically, these issues were dealt with separately by different conventions and policy fora, which were negotiated and implemented independently of one another, often by different departments or agencies within national governments. Thus, joint implementation and further strengthening of ongoing collaborations can increase synergies and effectiveness. improvement. Their long-term implementation may be facilitated by globalization trends through greater cooperation and resource transfer. On the whole, combating desertification yields multiple local and global benefits and helps mitigate biodiversity loss and human-induced global climate change. Environmental management approaches for combating desertification, mitigating climate change, and conserving biodiversity are interlinked in many ways. Therefore, joint implementation of major environmental conventions can lead to increased synergy and effectiveness, benefiting dryland people. Effectively dealing with desertification will lead to a reduction in global poverty. Addressing desertification is critical and essential for meeting the Millennium Development Goals successfully. Viable alternatives must be provided to dryland people to maintain their livelihoods without causing desertification. These alternatives should be embedded in national strategies to reduce poverty and in national action programs to combat desertification.
GLOBAL EXTENT OF DESERTIFICATION AROUND THE WORLD The transformation of soils and vegetation as a result of human use and climatic events is common to all ecosystems, for example, when soils are ploughed and pasture lands grazed. Dry land areas are considered particularly likely to suffer adverse impacts from human activity, because these areas also experience low and highly variable levels of rainfall. Thus, for example, soils are exposed to high risk of wind erosion during the long dry season, due to low levels of vegetation cover. Equally the violent storms at the start of the rainy season can provoke rapid floods and washing away of topsoil. Dry land soils are often thin with little
organic matter, rendering them of low fertility and poor at holding moisture. Erratic and unpredictable rainfall also creates difficulties for human and animal populations dependent on these ecosystems since, in years of drought, reliance on other sources of food and income must be sought. As a result of their low productivity, dryland areas are often politically and economically marginal to most governments, and receive little attention. At the same time, the dry lands of the world have been of enormous importance to many major civilisation over past millennia, who were able to make a good living from combining irrigated farming with animal rearing and trade. Equally many of the most valued crops of today stem from dry land areas. Currently, an estimated 900 million people across the world live in areas considered µdry lands¶ which make up as much as 30% of the earth¶s land surface. These environments include the Sahelian and savannah plains of Africa, the plateau lands of southern India, arid parts of China and central Asia, much of the Mediterranean and Middle East region and the µcerrados¶ or scrublands of South America.
Some examples of desertification trends Kenya At Lake Baringo, an area of 360,000 ha, the annual rate of land degradation desertification between 1950 and 1981 was 0.4%. At Marsabit, an area of 1.4 million ha, it was 1.3% for the period 1956-1972. In the three localities of Nara, Mordiah, and Yonfolia, with a total area of some 195,000 ha, the average annual rate of loss during the past 30-35 years has been of the order of 0.1%. The annual rate of desertification during the past century was of the order of 10% and about 1 million ha were lost to the desert between 1880 and the present. The present average annual rate of desertification/land degradation for the country is of the order of 0.6%, while in such places as Boakong County, north of Beijing in Hebei Province, it rises to 1.3%, and to 1.6% in Fenging County. The annual desertification/sand encroachment rate in certain districts of Kalmykia, north-west of the Caspian Sea, was recently estimated at a level as high as 10%, while in other localities it was 1.5-5.4%. The desert growth around the drying-out Aral Sea was estimated at about 100,000 ha per year during the past 25 years, which gives an annual average desertification rate of 4%. An annual rate of land degradation of 0.25% was found in the 500,000 ha area of the Anti-Lebanon Range north of Damascus for the period 1958-1982. The country's average annual rate of abandonment of cultivated land owing to soil degradation increased from 0.6% in 1970-1980 to about 7% in 1980-1984. An analysis using a satellite-derived vegetation index shows steady expansion of the Sahara between 1980 and 1984 (an increase of approximately 1,350,000 km ) followed by a partial recovery up to 1990 (Tucker et al., 1991).
Syria Yemen Sahara
COMBATING DESERTIFICATION GLOBALLY
Globally, desertification has reached 3.6 billion hectares, which accounts for 25 percent of the Earth¶s terrestrial land mass. Desertification threatens the livelihoods of nearly a billion people in some 100 countries, causing US$42 billion in losses every year. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. n Kenya¶s Machakos district, the government has worked hand in hand with local farmers to improve farming practices to combat the effects of desertification resulting from the erosion on hillside farms and cleared dry woodlands. Thousands of kilometers of farm terraces and field drains were constructed and new crop-livestock systems were put in place. In 40 years, land degradation was reversed. On a per capital basis, a doubling in output occurred even as the population grew fivefold from the 1940 s to the 1980 s. China is a country that is battling land degradation on a huge scale. Nearly 400 million people nationwide live under the threat of desertification, and half of the population in desertified areas live under the poverty line. Ningxia is one of the Chinese provinces hit hardest by desertification. Today, Ningxia is the first province in China to achieve a complete reversal of desertification. The Machakos District and Ningxia Province¶s success has taken time and tremendous effort but the positive results are obvious, making this a crucial lesson for others to follow. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has, in support of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), been for many years assisting countries to enhance cooperation in controlling land degradation and the resultant desertification. Recently, an online reporting system has been designed to monitor performance and impacts in member states. UNEP has been one of the lead UN agencies in transmitting this experience to the global community. Desertification in Europe In Europe, dry land areas cover more than two thirds of Spain, the Algarve and Alentejo regions of southern Portugal, the Mezzogiorno regions of Italy, most of mainland and island Greece, as well as the island of Corsica and southern départements of France. In these regions, rural areas can suffer desertification on a significant scale as a result of changing patterns of land use combined with harsh climatic events. Over the centuries, human communities whether hunters, herders or farmers have structured and restructured the physical environment creating the current familiar images associated with the Mediterranean landscape - terraces and orchards, pasture and scrub on dry hillsides, etc. In recent years, however, several factors have combined to increase the risk of land degradation. Greatly intensified agricultural production has often involved unsustainable exploitation of limited sources of water, an increased risks of soil erosion from patterns of grazing and tillage.
Conversely, abandonment of land can also lead to increased risk of damage caused by fires and loss of vegetation cover. Urban and tourist developments along the coastline have shifted population densities causing the exodus of people from rural areas. In addition, new urban centres have brought new pressures on patterns of land management and competition for limited water supplies. These anthropogenic factors in combination with prevalent climatic conditions - fiercely dry periods followed by short intense rainfall events ± can lead to serious problems of soil erosion. In Spain alone, data from 1993 suggest that almost one million hectares of land are already considered as desert lands and another 7 million have been identified as being at high risk of serious long term damage.
It can be seen that, in µdeveloping¶ and µdeveloped¶ countries alike, there is a clear need for the development of conservation measures for soils susceptible to damage which will help control or alleviate the worst excesses of land degradation.
Combating desertification in Asia Desertification manifests itself in many different forms across the vast Asian continent. Out of a total land area of 4.3 billion hectares, Asia contains some 1.7 billion hectares of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid land reaching from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Pacific. Degraded areas include expanding deserts in China, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, the sand dunes of Syria, the steeply eroded mountain slopes of Nepal, and the deforested and overgrazed highlands of the Lao Peopleµs Democratic Republic. Asia, in terms of the number of people affected by desertification and drought, is the most severely affected continent. To be fully effective, activities to combat desertification and drought need to be carefully tailored to the particular circumstances and needs of each country. The Conventionµs Regional Implementation Annex for Asia recognizes these particular conditions. It calls for activities at the national, subregional, and regional level in the form of coordinated and integrated action programmes. The integration of activities directly related to the combat against desertification into other environmental and sustainable development strategies is meant to maximize the output and benefit for affected country Parties. Therefore, action at the local level should combine the fight against desertification with efforts to alleviate rural poverty. The Asian and Pacific countries to have adopted their National Action Programmes (NAPs) are: China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, the Lao Peopleµs Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Sri L anka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The other affected developing countries in the Asia and Pacific region are at various stages of NAP formulation. The preparation of NAPs is a dynamic ongoing process and the status of each country is subject to change over time. The
Conventionµs ³bottomup´ approach, whereby existing desertification programmes are reviewed by the stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local authorities, and community leaders, was generally adopted in formulating NAPs. Mainstreaming the NAPs in order to enhance their effective implementation is another important consideration in this regard. As one of the major affected country Parties in Asia, China illustrates the need to make combating dryland degradation a long-term strategic goal in its NAP. It is estimated that some 27 percent of the countryµs land mass is desertified, with an average of 2,460 square kilometers of land being lost to advancing deserts each year. Nearly 400 million people live in these areas, and the economic loss to China has been estimated at around US$ 6.5 billion a year. China has responded to this environmental threat, which has serious socio-economic ramifications, by passing laws and drawing up a NAP. The NAP was formulated within the framework of the countryµs agenda 21 for sustainable development, an act to prevent and combat desertification was adopted in August 2001 and entered into force on 1 January 2002. Coordination is being stirred and maintained by the China National Committee to Implement the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCICCD), which has 18 ministries or government agencies as its members. CCICCD is supported by a permanent secretariat and three centres: a research centre, a monitoring centre, and a training centre. China has established four million ha plantations each year, most of which are aimed at land degradation control. Recently, the Government has taken the initiative of encouraging people to convert farmland (on steep slopes or marginal lands) back to forests, in order to reduce desertification. Regional activities are being launched through Thematic Programme Networks (TPNs). Based on the principles contained in the Convention to Combat Desertification and its regional annex for Asia, a number of regional meetings introduced an approach that has become central to regional cooperation in Asia: the TPNs. Each network deals with one core aspect, which is either a cause or an effect of desertification, and aims at providing and promoting regional solutions through improved and innovative regional cooperation and exchange of information. The networks have evolved following the 1997 Beijing Ministerial Conference, the 1998 Muscat meeting and the 1997 Tashkent Conference. The implementation of the NAPs is advanced by the promotion of regional cooperation and capacity-building at national and subregional levels through the six TPNs adopted at the Beijing Ministerial Conference. These are Desertification monitoring and assessment (hosted by China and launched in July 1999), Agroforestry and soil conservation (hosted by India and launched in May 2000), Rangeland management and fixation of shifting sand dunes (hosted by Iran and launched in May 2001), Water resources management for arid-land agriculture (hosted by Syria and launched in July 2002), Strengthening capacities for drought impact mitigation and combating desertification (hosted by Mongolia and launched in July 2003), and Assistance for the implementation of integrated local area development programmes (LADPs) (hosted by Pakistan and launched in June 2004). West Asian countries are implementing a subregional action programme (SRAP) to strengthen their activities under the Convention. In response to the subregionµ s needs, West
Asia-based organizations have formulated activities promoting intergovernmental cooperation within the subregion. The activities within the SRAP will focus on two main areas: water resources and vegetative cover. An operational structure was finalized and agreed at the Dubai meeting (February 2000). All the Central Asian Countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) are affected or severely affected by drought and desertification. The main feature of the Central Asian subregion is that it comprises countries with very similar patterns of historical, economic and political development in the pre-independence (1991) period. Since the early 1990s, all countries of the subregion have been undergoing a process of radical socio-economic reforms, including democratization, decentralization, privatization, improved access to information for ordinary citizens, and land reforms, which have direct or indirect implications for environmental protection, including combating desertification. The transformation period has been accompanied in most countries by serious economic difficulties, which, in some cases, have been exacerbated by political disturbances. Despite these difficulties, the Central Asian countries have adopted measures that are conducive to the effective implementation of the Convention. The sub-regional project, such as this on the Aral Sea Basin (SRAP/ CD) reflects subregional cooperation for combating desertification and land degradation. Agreement was reached to start implementation of the SRAP/CD through organizing training courses for countries of the sub-region. Activities are being undertaken to start implementing national projects to combat desertification under the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management. East, Southeast, and South Asia has a very varied climate and contain much biological diversity. Nevertheless, the magnitude of soil erosion and the resulting loss of biodiversity and agricultural productivity are increasingly threatening both the ecological and the economic base of many countries. Concerted action is needed to halt the emerging trends. The 1996 Delhi Conference and the 1997 Beijing Ministerial Conference endorsed the principle of cooperation across climatically different regions in order to prevent further land degradation. South Asian Country Parties adopted SRAP in Sri Lanka in July 2004, and Southeast Asian Country Parties are expected to finalize and adopt SRAP after the seventh session of Conference of Parties (COP7). Many countries have expressed interest in organizing regional and subregional consultative meetings on the Asia-wide TPNs. The 14 Pacific Country Parties are unique in their problems and the ways to address those problems. Drought preparedness, land productivity and vulnerability to natural disasters and economic shocks are the main issues confronting them in relation to sustainable development, including this Convention. The Pacific Island Workshop held in Apia, Samoa in May 2001 laid down the blueprint for developing a Pacific Island Initiative on agroforestry, water harvesting, land use monitoring, and early warning systems for drought forecasting. In view of their geographic isolation and the relatively small size of their economies, the countries at that meeting recommended the adoption of a subregional approach in the implementation of the Convention, together with national level activities.INDIA
Land degradation in the Indian context Land degradation has far-reaching consequences that affect many realms of life, sometimes far away, but land is above all a powerful element of the solution to the major challenges of our time. The major process of land degradation is soil erosion (due to water and wind erosion), Contributing to over 71% of the land degradation in the country. Soil erosion due to water alone contributes to about 61.7% and that by wind erosion 10.24%. The other processes include problems of water logging, salinity-alkalinity. Land degradation results in soil erosion, decline in water table, reduced agricultural productivity, loss of bio-diversity, decline in groundwater and availability of water in the affected regions. All these affect the lives and livelihoods of the populations, often eventually precipitating forced migration and socio-economic conflicts. Unsustainable resource management practices are often induced by population pressures and poverty. People affected by desertification often need to draw on their limited assets in order to survive, which accentuates their poverty. This constitutes a vicious cycle linking deteriorating natural resources to deteriorating livelihoods as people need to encroach further on fragile soils, sparse vegetation and limited water resources to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and livelihood. As per the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India2 published by the Space Application Centre in 2007, about 32.07 % of the land is undergoing various forms of degradation and 25% of the geographical area is affected by desertification. About 69% of the country¶s lands are dry lands and degradation of these lands has severe implications for the livelihood and food security of millions.
ONE- FOURTH OF INDIA HEADED FOR DESERTIFICATION TOTAL AREA UNDER DESERTIFICATION IN INDIA -- 81.45 MN HECTARES Desertification because of water erosion -- 26.21 million hectares Desertification because of wind erosion -- 17.77 million hectares Desertification because of degradation of vegetation -- 17.63 million hectares Desertification because of frost shattering -- 9.47 million hectares Desertification because of other reasons -- 10.37 million hectares
Even though India¶s land area is only 2.4 percent of the world¶s total land area, it supports 16.67 percent of the world¶s population and 18 percent of its livestock. These pressures alone play a major role in promoting desertification
UNCCD in India India became a signatory to the UNCCD on 14th October 1994 and ratified it on 17th December1996. With about 32% of its land being affected by land degradation, India has high stakes and stands strongly committed to implementing the UNCCD. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is the nodal Ministry in the Government of India for the UNCCD, and Desertification cell is the nodal point within the Ministry to co-ordinate all issues pertaining to the convention. India actively participates in international events on desertification and is currently the Chair of the Regional Implementation Annexe for the Asia and the Pacific region3. Though India does not have a specific policy or legislative framework for combating desertification as such, the concern for arresting and reversing land degradation and desertification gets reflected in many of our national policies which have enabling provisions for addressing these problems4. It is also implicit in the goals of sustainable forest management (SFM), sustainable agriculture, sustainable land management (SLM) and the overarching goal of sustainable development which the country has been pursuing. The subject has in fact been engaging the attention of our planners and policy makers since the inception of planning. The first five year plan (1951-1956) had µland rehabilitation¶ as one of the thrust areas. In the subsequent plans too, high priority has been consistently attached to development of the dry lands. The DLDD issues and livelihoods security is addressed by the various projects and programmes under various Government of India agencies like Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Department of National Rain fed Area Authority, etc),Ministry of Rural Development (Department of Land Resources, NREGA), Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Department of Science & Technology and Planning Commission. Programme and initiatives have been underway over the past 40 years with Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) of 1973±74; followed by Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA) -1974±75; Desert Development Programme (DDP) 1977±78; Reclamation & Development of Alkali Soil (RAS) 1985-86; Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP) 1989; Integrated Afforestation and Eco-Development Projects Scheme(IAEPS) 1989-90, National Watershed Development Project for Rain fed Areas (NWDPRA) - 1990-91;Soil Conservation in the Catchment of River Valley Projects (RVP) 1992; Association of Scheduled Tribes and Rural Poor in Regeneration of Degraded Forests (ASTRP), launched in 1992-93 and subsequently merged into National Afforestation Programme, the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) 2002-03 and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) 2008. India formulated and submitted in 2001 a National Action Programme (NAP) to combat desertification5, in accomplishment of one of the obligations that parties to the Convention (UNCCD) are required to fulfil. A broad roadmap to combating desertification, NAP recognizesthe multi sectoral nature of the task, in view of the fact that many of the drivers of
desertification have cross cutting dimensions. As for instance, poverty of the masses has long been known to be a key driver of desertification and land degradation, which needs to addressed. 3 India is the host country for the Thematic Programme Network (TPN)-2: on Agro forestry and The Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur is the host institution. The Ministry has published ³Agro forestry Manual for Asia-Pacific Region´ in collaboration with the UNCCD in 2004. India is a leading country on the work on TPN ± 1: Desertification Status Monitoring (DSM). The Space Application Centre, Ahmadabad has published a DSM Atlas of the country in 2007, which is a globally pioneering work, based on a pilot project sponsored by MoEF.
Through the fourth reporting and review process Parties and the other reporting entities will be providing information on: y Performance indicators for the five operational objectives of the Strategy; y Financial flows (through the Standardized Financial Annex (SFA) and Programme and Project Sheet (PPS); y Best practices on sustainable land management (SLM) technologies, including adaptation; y Feedback on indicators and methodologies applied in this reporting and review process, as well as other pertinent information that reporting entities may wish to provide to the COP. The process of preparation of the report will include data collection and synthesis of important programmes undertaken by the various Government of India ministries, research institutes, and civil society organisations. A national consultation is also planned to enable sharing of the draft document and invite inputs to fill additional information.
Programmes Controlling Desertification India has always maintained that desertification is a function of the interplay of a number of causative factors and thus only a multi-sectoral approach alone will be able to arrest and reverse the process of desertification. Some major schemes/ programmes that have contributed to desertification control are Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP), 1973-74; Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA), 1974-75; Desert Development Programme (DDP), 1977-78; Reclamation & Development of Alkali Soil (RAS), 1985-86; Watershed Development Fund (WDF), Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP), 1989; National Watershed Development Project for Rain fed Areas (NWDPRA) ± 1990-91 and Soil Conservation in the Catchment of River Valley Projects (RVP) 1992. National Afforestation Programme (NAP) 2002-03 is also one of the major
programmes in which Association of Scheduled Tribes and Rural Poor in Regeneration of Degraded Forests (ASTRP), launched in 1992-93 and Integrated Afforestation and EcoDevelopment Projects Scheme (LAEPS) 1989-90 were merged into the National Afforestation Programme. The year mentioned against the name of the schemes above designates the year of inception. The three schemes of Desert Development Programme, Drought Prone Area Programme and Integrated Wasteland Development Programme have been consolidated into a single programme of Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) with effect from 01.04.2008. Recent initiatives include sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management (SLEM Programmatic Approach) 2007; Common Guidelines for Watershed Development Programme- 2008; Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and Guidelines for Convergence between NREGA and NAP 2009.
Main findings Desertification is defined by the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification as ³land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.´ Land degradation is in turn defined as the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity of dry lands. This report evaluates the condition of desertification in dry lands, including hyper-arid areas, by asking pointed questions and providing answers based exclusively on the reports generated for the MA. Desertification occurs on all continents except Antarctica and affects the livelihoods of millions of people, including a large proportion of the poor in dry lands. Desertification takes place worldwide in dry lands, and its effects are experienced locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Dry lands occupy 41% of Earth¶s land area and are home to more than 2 billion people²a third of the human population in the year 2000. Dry lands include all terrestrial regions where water scarcity limits the production of crops, forage, wood, and other ecosystem provisioning services. Formally, the MA definition encompasses all lands where the climate is classified as dry subhumid, semiarid, arid, or hyper-arid. Please see Appendix A for more details about their geography and demography. Some 10±20% of dry lands are already degraded (medium certainty). Based on these rough estimates, about 1±6% of the dryland people live in desertified areas, while a much larger number is under threat from further desertification. Scenarios of future development show that, if unchecked, desertification and degradation of ecosystem services in dry lands will threaten future improvements in human well-being and possibly reverse gains in some
regions. Therefore, desertification ranks among the greatest environmental challenges today and is a major impediment to meeting basic human needs in dry lands. Persistent, substantial reduction in the provision of ecosystem services as a result of water scarcity, intensive use of services, and climate change is a much greater threat in dry lands than in non-dryland systems. In particular, the projected intensification of freshwater scarcity as a result of climate change will cause greater stresses in dry lands. If left unmitigated, these stresses will further exacerbate desertification. The greatest vulnerability is ascribed to sub-Saharan and Central Asian dry lands. For example, in three key regions of Africa²the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Africa²severe droughts occur on average once every 30 years. These droughts triple the number of people exposed to severe water scarcity at least once in every generation, leading to major food and health crises. Desertification is a result of a long-term failure to balance demand for and supply of ecosystem services in dry lands. The pressure is increasing on dryland ecosystems for providing services such as food, forage, fuel, building materials, and water for humans and livestock, for irrigation, and for sanitation. This increase is attributed to a combination of human factors and climatic factors. The former includes indirect factors like population pressure, socioeconomic and policy factors, and globalization phenomena like distortions to international food markets and direct factors like land use patterns and practices and climaterelated processes. The climatic factors of concern include droughts and projected reduction in freshwater availability due to global warming. While the global and regional interplay of these factors is complex, it is possible to understand it at the local scale. The magnitude and impacts of desertification vary greatly from place to place and change over time. This variability is driven by the degree of aridity combined with the pressure people put on the ecosystem¶s resources. There are, however, wide gaps in our understanding and observation of desertification processes and their underlying factors. A better delineation of desertification would enable cost-effective action in areas affected by it. Measurement of a persistent reduction in the capacity of ecosystems to supply services provides a robust and operational way to quantify lan d degradation, and thus desertification. Such a quantification approach is robust because these services can be monitored, and some of them are already monitored routinely. Desertification has strong adverse impacts on non-dry lands as well; affected areas may sometimes be located thousands of kilometers away from the desertified areas.The biophysical impacts include dust storms, downstream Àooding, impairment of global carbon sequestration capacity, and regional and global climate change. The societal impacts relate notably to human migration and economic refugees, leading to deepening poverty and political instability. Tailored to the degree of aridity, interventions and adaptations are available and used to prevent desertification and to restore, where needed, the capacity of the dryland
ecosystems to provide services. Increased integration of land and water management is a key method for desertification prevention. Local communities play a central role in the adoption and success of effective land and water management policies. In this respect, they require institutional and technological capacity, access to markets, and financial capital. Similarly, increased integration of pastoral and agricultural land uses provides an environmentally sustainable way to avoid desertification. However, policies to replace pastoralism with sedentary cultivation in rangelands can contribute to desertification. On the whole, prevention is a much more effective way to cope with desertification, because subsequent attempts to rehabilitate desertified areas are costly and tend to deliver limited results. Desertification can also be avoided by reducing the stress on dryland ecosystems. This can be achieved in two ways. First, by introduction of alternative livelihoods that have less of an impact on dryland resources. These livelihoods benefit from the unique advantages of dry lands: round-the-year available solar energy, attractive landscapes, and large wilderness areas. Second, by creation of economic opportunities in urban centers and areas outside dry lands. Scenarios for future development show that the desertified area is likely to increase, and the relief of pressures on dry lands is strongly correlated with poverty reduction.There is medium certainty that population growth and increase in food demand will drive an expansion of cultivated land, often at the expense of woodlands and rangelands. This is likely to increase the spatial extent of desertified land. The MA scenarios also show that coping with desertification and its related economic conditions will likely fare better when proactive management approaches are used. Proactive land and water management policies can help avoid the adverse impacts of desertification. These approaches may initially have a high cost due to technological development and deployment and may also have a slower rate of environment
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