A restored environmentally degraded site in the desert converted into a beautiful oasis with proper watershed management and rehabilitations to encourage growth of desert plants, animals and arrival of migratory birds.
Photos: Bedanga Bordoloi

21.03.2017

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Throughout the world, demand for finite land resources is ever increasing, and can lead to irreversible land degradation, as land is used beyond its “bio-capacity”. Against this background, sustainable land management has become extremely important. The benefits are well-known, as are measures and best practices. But implementation is still lagging behind. A plea for more efforts in bringing together the world of conservation with the financial and development sectors.

“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937

 

Globally, there is an increasing demand for goods and services derived from finite land resources. Land available to feed one person decreased from 0.45 hectares in 1961 to just 0.20 hectares in 2005. Climate change, population growth, globalisation and poor land management practices have resulted in a loss of provisioning and ecosystem services (e.g. carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling) maintained by land. Some degradations are natural, like those caused by earthquakes and landslides, while in most cases they are human-induced. Factors influencing them include deforestation, over-grazing and urban sprawl. Declining soil quality results in low crop productivity, prompting farmers to make greater use of fertilisers and chemicals, putting the population into a vicious cycle of land degradation, food shortage and poverty. Degradation also causes loss of forest, biodiversity and vegetative cover, inducing climate change. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one out of every three people on Earth is in some way affected by land degradation.

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