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DESERTIFICATION IN INDIA



  Jun 10, 2024

DESERTIFICATION IN INDIA



Definitions

Desertification: Desertification is a type of land degradation in which fertile land becomes desert as a result of various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. It involves the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems due to human activities and climatic changes, leading to the loss of biological productivity.

Land Degradation: Land degradation refers to the decline in land quality caused by human activities or natural phenomena, resulting in reduced capacity of the land to produce goods and services.

Current Status in India

As of November 2023, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change reported that 25% of India’s land is undergoing desertification. The Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO estimated that in 2018–2019, 97.84 million hectares of land in India were degraded or desertified. The UNCCD estimates that between 2015 and 2019, India lost 30.51 million hectares of land to degradation, approximately 9.45% of the country’s landmass.

Causes of Desertification in India

1. Population Pressure:
• Overexploitation of land for cultivation, grazing, and deforestation.
• Intensive use of water resources for agriculture and other purposes.

2. Climate Change:
• Increased frequency of droughts and extreme weather conditions.
• Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns exacerbate land degradation.

3. Human Activities:
• Unsustainable agricultural practices and deforestation.
• Overgrazing by livestock and mismanagement of water resources.

Measures to Combat Desertification

1. Geospatial Technology:
• Use of satellite data and geospatial technology to monitor land degradation.
• Development of the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India for planning and implementation of restoration schemes.

2. Afforestation and Reforestation:
• National Mission for a Green India (GIM) and Forest Fire Protection & Management Scheme (FFPM).
• Compensatory afforestation under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

3. Policy and Governance:
• Implementation of the National Forest Policy (NFP), 1988, which aims to have one-third of India’s land area under forest or tree cover.
• Development of an online portal for visualization of degraded land areas and processes causing degradation.

4. International Cooperation:
• Participation in the Bonn Challenge to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030.
• Collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for reporting progress.

5. Local Initiatives:
• State-specific schemes for afforestation and eco-restoration, such as the Rehabilitation of Coastal Habitat in Tamil Nadu.
• Involvement of local communities in awareness and training programs.

6. Cross-Sectoral Efforts:
• Integration of efforts across various departments, NGOs, civil society, and corporate bodies.
• Implementation of schemes under both central and state plans to tackle land degradation.

Conclusion

India’s proactive approach to combating desertification through a combination of technological advancements, policy reforms, international cooperation, and local initiatives positions the country as a significant player in sustainable land management. These efforts are crucial for ensuring food, water, and livelihood security and achieving land degradation neutrality.



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