Action planned


By VLADIMIR NOROV | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-14 –

With the adoption of the Green Belt Program, the SCO countries will seek to accelerate their emission reduction by sharing their experience in the use of environmentally friendly technologies

Reducing carbon emissions and achieving a state of carbon neutrality can only be achieved through the use of advanced technologies. As such, this has become the focus of attention for the entire world community due to the every more acute problems caused by climate change.

Experts agree that it is human activity-the burning of oil, gas and coal-that is generating the greenhouse effect that is resulting in a seemingly inexorable rise in the average global temperature, which leads to many negative consequences for humanity, in particular, the deteriorating ecological situation that is accelerating biodiversity loss and the emergence of many zoonotic diseases.

According to the World Health Organization, 2 billion people suffer from infectious diseases every year, of which 14 million die.

According to the United Nations, in recent decades, due to climate change, there has been an acceleration of the rate of desertification worldwide.

At the moment, more than 2 billion hectares of productive land has been degraded worldwide by desertification, and an additional 12 million hectares is being degraded annually.

Problems related to desertification and land degradation, water scarcity and food security affect the entire Shanghai Cooperation Organization region, mostly Central Asia, which is the core area of the organization.

Socioeconomic stability in this region is of key importance for all the SCO members.

In this context, we are talking about the drying up of the Aral Sea, once the fourth-largest closed sea in the world, an environmental disaster, which has been of not only regional, but also global significance.

The declaration of the heads of the SCO member states, adopted at the end of the Bishkek Summit in 2019, stressed that the growing cross-border security challenges and threats, including climate change and the shortage of drinking water, require special attention, close coordination and constructive interaction with the rest of the international community.

Based on the importance of preserving the ecological balance within the SCO region, restoring biodiversity, ensuring favorable conditions for people’s well-being and sustainable development, and in order to implement the concept of cooperation in the field of environmental protection of the SCO member states and the action plan for its practical implementation at the Moscow SCO Summit last year, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed to develop and adopt the “SCO Green Belt Program” within the organization.

This program is aimed at promoting the use and implementation of technologies with low greenhouse gas emissions in many sectors of the economy, and increasing the share of renewable and low-emissions energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, the SCO Green Belt Program is being discussed by experts of the SCO countries and it is due to be adopted at the SCO anniversary summit to be held in Dushanbe on Sep 16 to 17 this year.

Today, all the SCO member states are striving to significantly reduce their carbon emissions and achieve a state of carbon neutrality, which, in turn, will lead to a number of significant, far-reaching positive effects on people’s well-being, by helping to ensure food security, preventing natural disasters and strengthening energy independence.

Good news for both China and the SCO countries, as well as the global fight against climate change, was the adoption by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly last September of commitments to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

For the world, China’s acceptance of these commitments brings the world community closer to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than 2 C.

The implementation of an active program to combat climate change will bring tangible economic benefits to China.

According to available calculations, the program to achieve the goal of 1.5 C will increase the country’s GDP by 2 percent to 3 percent, reduce the demand for fossil fuels by about 80 percent, and reduce emissions by 75 percent to 85 percent for the period up to 2050.

China’s decarbonization initiatives create huge opportunities to accelerate technological innovation and modernize production, which will further strengthen the country’s economy.

We should also not forget that China is a global manufacturing and innovation center, and by setting emissions reduction goals for itself, it is on the way to becoming the largest supplier of decarbonization technologies for other countries striving to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Managing an agriculture crisis


Critics of the European Union often use in their favour the argument that the bloc should not use taxpayers’ money to subsidise farmers, as it does under the Common Agricultural Policy. A more balanced view would be that agriculture is not like any other economic activity. It has strategic importance for most countries, even if the economic fundamentals may not always be positive.

Yet, agriculture is facing threats on several fronts, from both natural and man-made causes.

Nearly half the EU’s member states have declared they are affected by desertification, under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Land-management practices are one of the leading causes of land degradation. Man-made factors have, over the last few decades, turned Malta into one of the member states most vulnerable to desertification. Political action at both local and EU level is needed to combat the risk of further land degradation.

A 2020 European Parliament briefing on desertification and agriculture in the EU confirmed a 2018 European Court of Auditors’ report that there is no EU-level strategy on desertification and land degradation.

Our representatives in the European Parliament should increase pressure on the European Commission to revise the Common Agricultural Policy to ensure that it provides farmers with more aid to fight the adversities of climate change, desertification and land degradation.

On the local front, Malta badly needs to invest in environmental security. Maltese farmers face an existential crisis caused by several factors that include climate change, soil salinity build-up, poor quality water for irrigation and unsustainable land management and farming practices.

Now, a new threat has arisen which could seriously damage the sector unless robust political action is urgently taken.

A recent court judgment held that the Agricultural Leases (Reletting) Act breaches owners’ rights to the peaceful enjoyment of property. This legal development effectively means that owners of land leased to farmers can increase the rent to an unaffordable level. If the tenants fail to pay up, they can be evicted. Some landowners will be hoping that,  after enough passage of time and after their land has been left to degrade, building permits will be issued with the potential of earning them windfall profits.

Neither political party wants to commit itself to enacting policies that would discourage further land speculation. This will only perpetuate a vicious circle in which the price of land will further

appreciate, property development will become even more speculative, landowners will be further enriched and more farmers will become impoverished.

The nationalisation of agricultural land is not a solution. Nor are direct subsidies to farmers who may then be reluctant to invest in more sustainable agriculture practices. However, a body that represents farmers, Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi, is right to call on the government to intervene in the search for a solution to farmer evictions, which will only accele­rate unless the judgment is successfully appealed. A sensible suggestion made by the young farmers’ lobby would be to revise rent prices so that landowners will be more justly compensated.

However, the price of such land should not be based on a speculative valuation of agricultural fields that could one day be granted development permits. It must be based on a formula that considers the value of the land as based on increased productivity following investment in the upgrading of agriculture practices.

Ultimately, it is up to our political leaders to save the local agriculture industry from extinction. They should start with a strategy aimed at compensating the owners of agriculture land more equitably while guaranteeing farmers the security of tenure that they need to invest in their future.

How countries alongside the Sahara can restore productive land faster

(the Great Green Wall)

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is about to take over the presidency of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall – the continent’s effort to restore degraded cropland, grazing areas and woodlands bordering the Sahara Desert. He takes over from Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, president of Mauritania.

Buhari has the support of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and an international accelerator platform with new funding. But based on the slow rate of progress to date and the lingering confusion about the initiative’s vision, much work remains ahead to achieve farmer prosperity.

Africa’s Great Green Wall is an ambitious initiative started in 2007 by the African Union. It is now running far behind schedule. It needs to immediately speed up to reach its goals by 2030, as called for by the new infusion of money and as needed by the people along the edges of the desert.

The original aim was to plant an 8,000km long, 15km wide tree barrier linking Dakar to Djibouti. This was to stop “desert encroachment” and protect ecosystems and human communities in the south and north of the Sahara from the harmful effects of desertification and drought.

The African Union and the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall discarded this idea in 2012, shifting the focus of efforts from trees to humans. Improving food security and livelihoods will be linked to containing desertification.

The new vision that emerged in 2012 is to establish a mosaic of green and productive landscapes across a broad zone surrounding the Sahara. The aim is to restore whole agroecosystems through land management practices that enhance the livelihoods of the rural people.

The goals set for the Green Wall by 2030 are:

  • restore 100 million hectares of degraded land
  • sequester 250 million tons of carbon
  • create 10 million green jobs in rural areas.

Reported progress has been slow and uneven, say reports commissioned by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the World Bank. Only some 18 million hectares have been restored so far, and movement in some countries is lagging. The Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations have estimated that the pace must increase by a factor of 10 if the 2030 goals are to be reached.

Fortunately, help is on the way. On 11 January 2021 at the One Planet Summit in Paris, world leaders announced financial support of US$16 billion over five years – almost 10 times as much as international donors contributed between 2010 and 2019. A new multi-stakeholder platform will accelerate the Green Wall process through better coordination, implementation, monitoring, and tracking of impact. This accelerator will be managed by the agency headed by Buhari.

The task is a challenge but far from hopeless. Successful cases of regreening do exist, as shown by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s map of 2016. The accelerator would do well to study what has worked for regreening in various cases.

The following suggestions build on our experience and examination of successful cases.

Build on past successes

In the densely populated parts of southern Niger, farmers have regreened more than five million hectares since 1985 by adding at least 200 million trees to their farming systems. They did this not by planting trees, but by protecting and managing natural regeneration from the tree stumps already there and from the seedlings that emerge naturally from the soil.

On Mali’s Seno Plains, around half a million hectares have been regreened by farmers since the mid-1990s. In central Senegal, hundreds of villages are now greener than 30 years ago. In Burkina Faso and Niger, farmers have restored several hundred thousand hectares of barren degraded land to productivity by using simple water harvesting techniques.

These and other successful cases of restoration were driven and achieved through grassroots community mobilisation and the independent efforts of millions of farm households. They were also encouraged by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and development projects. They produced massive results at a very low cost.

Many of these efforts have not been officially reported as contributions to the Green Wall, as they happened outside the budgets and control of the national forestry departments.

The Pan African Agency now needs to convince governments to recognise and vigorously support investment in bottom-up, cost-effective, grassroots initiatives of this kind. This may not be the preferred choice of the government agencies through which funds are likely to pass. But many years of slow progress suggest that it is the only route to success.

No need to plant

The idea of the narrow green line across Africa still persists in too many minds. It is past the time to let it go. More trees are indeed needed, but planting is an expensive and precarious way to establish them in arid and semi-arid lands.

Budgets can be stretched tremendously by shifting to proven methods that achieve evergreening faster than conventional tree planting. We have discovered that regreening is almost always led by farmers. Farmers can protect and manage the natural regeneration of trees and shrubs on land they manage. There are also proven practices for rainwater harvesting and soil and water conservation.

Clarify goals and track progress

The shift in vision has made it more challenging to track the progress of the Green Wall. It is easier to imagine and monitor a long wall of planted trees than a comprehensive restoration initiative. New baselines must be created. All progress should be counted, not only that which comes from government spending. The Pan African Agency should insist on greater clarity and consistency in what needs to be monitored.

Collaborate with the non-governmental sector

The non-governmental sector must complement the efforts of government departments. The members of the Global EverGreening Alliance have pledged their joint capacity to restoring hundreds of millions of hectares of degraded lands. The alliance includes nearly all of the major development and conservation NGOs around the world, and those working in the Sahel.

The NGO community is a tremendous resource. The Pan African Agency could greatly expand its impact by working with it.

Restoring the 100 million hectares of degraded lands surrounding the Sahara is possible. But the mindsets in governments and donor organisations must change. Success so far has been largely due to grassroots efforts with only modest support from external sources. Thus, the strategy going forward is clear: invest in scaling-up the proven successes, and let go of the ones that have failed.

While President Buhari has not indicated the direction the agency will take under his chairmanship, we hope he can follow these recommendations.

Desertification: Kano to plant 1m trees

Tukur Muntari – 10 September 2021 –

The Kano State Government on Thursday flagged off the 2021 tree planting campaign with a pledge to plant one million trees as part of effort to check the menace of desertification in the state.

The State Commissioner for Environment, Kabiru Getso, disclosed this while flagging off the tree planting campaign in Kano on Thursday.

The Commissioner explained that the 2021 Tree Planting Campaign with the theme, ‘Mitigating Climate Effects and Achieving Beautification in Kano’, is meant to checkmate the indiscriminate felling of trees in Kano, which resulted the State to experienced maximum temperature of 44 degrees celsius in 2020.

Getso noted that last year, the State was compelled to plant over two million trees in an efforts to reduce the excessive high temperature.

He said this year’s cmpaign is designed to cover two weeks and has been divided into phases, the first phase will cover communities, state major roads, and some institutions, while the second phase will be launched by the Governor next week.

He disclosed that the state had keyed into National Great Green Wall Project, and already they have provided funds and land for the establishment of Community tree nurseries and plantations in the State.

He also disclosed that the state had evacuated over 1000 trucks of refuse as part of the Mass Environmental Clean Campaign embarked upon by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

He said that the evacuation of the eefuse had highly reduced the menace of flooding disturbing the ancient city.

See also :

Measures to fight desertification in Ruoergai County, SW China

By Ding Qian –

Ruoergai Wetland in Ruoergai County, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, with a complex and diverse geographical environment, is the world’s largest well-preserved alpine Sphagnum bog, occupying an area of 4,094.31 hectares. It is also the habitat for many rare and endangered species of animals and migratory birds. However, desertification has been a serious problem here. The overgraze, plateau environment and other reasons have made vegetation restoration very difficult. Thanks to years of painstaking efforts, land desertification has been contained in some areas of the county, and the gradual deterioration has been improved. Check out the video to learn about the measures against desertification in Ruoergai County. 

One-Fifth of Italy at Risk of Desertification, Irrigation Experts Warn

With less rain and water-saving infrastructure lacking, experts warn that the water crisis in Italy costs farmers €1 billion per year.

By Paolo DeAndreis –

On average, every year in Italy, we get around a meter of rain… But we waste almost 90 percent of that water since we can retain no more than 11 percent of the rainfall.– Francesco Vincenzi, president, Anbi

 Paolo DeAndreis

Italy’s desertification crisis began in the southern regions of the country in the last few decades but is now starting to make its way north.

According to the most recent estimates by the irrigation consortia association, Anbi, rising temperatures, extreme weather events and hydrogeological fragility threaten 20 percent of Italy.

The low water levels of some lakes and rivers worry the local communities while the consequences of the water crisis increasingly affect agriculture. The farmers association, Coldiretti, believes the current water crisis costs Italian farmers €1 billion per year.

“What we are seeing is the crisis heading north,” Francesco Vincenzi, the president of Anbi, told Olive Oil Times. “In the last decades, investments were made to boost the resilience capacity of at-risk southern regions such as Sardinia, Puglia or Basilicata while northern territories were perceived as safe.”

“Just a few years ago in the Po Valley, we could count on large water volumes,” he added. “Today the situation has changed, climate change has shown what drought and glacier melt mean, snowfall is often missing and in wintertime temperatures are higher. Even a single degree Celsius more than average means trouble for the availability of water for agriculture and river volumes.”

According to the regional agency for environmental protection, Arpa, 70 percent of Sicily is at risk of desertification while only 12 percent is considered safe.

A bit farther north, Arpa estimates that between 30 and 50 percent of Abruzzo is at risk of desertification. Not far, parts of Umbria and Tuscany are experiencing drought, and higher temperatures as the risk of desertification in these two olive oil-soaked regions rises.

Marco Neri, president of the Tuscany chapter of the farmer association, Confragricoltura, spoke in a press release of the need “to lead our scientific research towards developing agriculture with plants capable of resisting to the drought.”

Vincenzi added: “On average, every year in Italy, we get around a meter of rain. Even if we are a southern European country, we receive much more rainfall than countries such as Spain or Portugal. But we waste almost 90 percent of that water since we can retain no more than 11 percent of the rainfall.”

Anbi also estimates that 42 percent of all potable water poured into the Italian public aqueducts gets lost because of poor maintenance.

In Emilia-Romagna, where the Po Valley is and where many Italian agricultural goods thrive, total rainfall did not reach half the yearly average in 2021, while higher temperatures and the Po River losing volume multiplied the damage done to agriculture.

Po Valley, Italy

According to the local environmental protection agency, the region experienced 21 millimeters of rainfall in June, compared with the 65 that were expected based on the average rainfall recorded between 1961 and 2020.

The agency said that this drop makes June 2021 one of the driest months since 1961. In the same period, the agency recorded higher temperatures, with an average of 22.2 ºC, which means June has been one of the hottest Junes since 1961.

Anbi estimated that the heatwave experienced in Emilia-Romagna in the last 30 days coupled with the rare rainfall forced the irrigation consortia to deliver 32 million cubic meters of water, 70 percent of which comes from the Po River and almost two times larger than the average of the last 10 years.

According to Coldiretti, drought is the biggest threat to agriculture in Italy, and it is responsible for more than €14 billion in damages to production and infrastructure in the past decade. In the last 25 years, the association also noted that building development and abandoned fields made the cultivated land in Italy fall by 28 percent, down to 12.8 million hectares.

“Agriculture is the economic activity that more than any other faces the consequences of climate change every day, but it is also the sector most focused on combating them,” Coldiretti said.

According to the association, climate change “is a new challenge for farmers. They have to interpret the predictions from the weather services and the effects on the crop cycles, on the water management.”

Anbi has calculated that Italy currently receives five billion cube meters of water less than 50 years ago.

“And yet, Italy’s bigger problem is not the reduction of rainfall; it is the way it rains,” Vincenzi said. “Once, we could expect to see a hundred storms pouring their meter of rain. Now, we see 10 or 20 extreme rainfall events.”

“If we could retain more water, we could curtail the hydrogeological risk, create water reserves to use during drought for both agriculture and the population and even deploy a new weapon against forest fires,” he added.

In a few cases, those water-gathering infrastructures could also be used for electricity generation.

To try and address the country’s growing water retention problem, Anbi and Coldiretti are proposing a national development plan to create 1,000 mini-lakes.

“The project has won the attention of the government, and it is set to be included in the national resilience and recovery plan,” Vincenzi said. “Those small lakes are to be built with the cooperation of the local communities and with alternative materials… It will take years, but it will allow us to retain much more water.”

If precipitation reaches its annual average of almost 300 billion cubic meters each year, enough to cover the entire country in a meter of water, Anbi estimates that 52 billion cubic meters could be retained. Currently, about 5.8 billion cubic meters are retained. With the small lakes initiative, that quota could rise to seven billion.

“A new approach to water management and conservation is essential for agriculture and food,” Vincenzi concluded. “If we look at the pivotal role exerted by the agrifood business during the Covid-19 pandemic, as it granted social cohesion, we see the connection between the water crisis, agriculture and sustainability.”

Intensive Olive Farms Contribute to Desertification in Spain, Experts Warn

Researchers caution that one-fifth of Spain is at risk of desertification. Poor agricultural and land-use practices paired with historic mismanagement are largely to blam

By Paolo DeAndreis –

Desertification is always caused by human overexploitation of a natural resource with a slow renewal in drylands, such as groundwater or natural productivity.– Gabriel del Barrio, researcher, Arid Zones Experimental Station, CSIC

The specter of desertification looms across some of Spain’s most prodigious agricultural regions.

According to the government, Andalusia, the largest olive oil-producing region by a wide margin and home to most of the world’s super-high-density olive groves, is among the most at-risk territories.

“The technological changes associated with the new developments in olive agriculture raise some environmental uncertainties,” Gabriel del Barrio, a researcher at the Arid Zones Experimental Station within Spain’s national agency for scientific research (CSIC) in Almeria, told Olive Oil Times.

Traditional groves are similar to virgin forests in that they grow naturally in dry soil with deep roots. However, super-high-density groves tend to have shallow roots and are perpetually wet due to continuous drip irrigation.

Furthermore, traditional orchards might include centuries-old trees, while high-density groves (referred to as intensive groves in Spain) are usually made up of trees that are only a few decades old. Finally, super-high-density groves (super-intensive) include trees whose life expectancy does not exceed 14 or 16 years.

Spain is by far the largest olive oil producer in the world but still has the potential to continue rapidly increasing production as a result of the proliferation of high-density and super-high-density groves, according to Juan Vilar, a strategic consultant for the olive sector.

“Spain has enough trees to achieve, as of right now, two million tons of olive oil production,” he told Olive Oil Times in a July 2021 interview.

In the 2020/21 crop year, production reached 1.4 million tons. Both the sheer quantity and high quality of its olive oils make the country one of the world’s most relevant olive oil exporters. The vast majority of this production comes as a result of the country’s super-high-density groves.

However, the impact of this type of production on the ecosystem has yet to be fully understood, according to del Barrio.

“The consequences of these transformations to the soil biological systems, including the parasitic ones, and the ground-atmosphere exchanges of water and energy, remain almost unexplored,” del Barrio said. “An associated issue is the high irrigation requirement in areas that are naturally dry.”

In the report “Approach to the Costs of Olive Growing,” recently cited by El Mundo newspaper, the Spanish Association of Olive Growing Municipalities (AEMO) reported that the traditional olive groves represent 71 percent of all olive-dedicated territories with a total of 2.5 million hectares. Of those, 49 percent are considered mechanizable, while 22 percent have to be cared for by hand.

Yet, the costs to run and maintain traditional groves in a market dominated by high-density and super-high-density groves are so high that landowners are in the process of abandoning 130,000 hectares of groves, with another 500,000 hectares considered at risk of abandonment.

While harvesting a traditional grove might cost between €0.20 and €0.25 per kilogram of olives, for super-high-density groves that cost might be as low as €0.05 or €0.06, according to estimates from Almazaras de la Subbética, which El Mundo cited.

The researchers said that identifying the causes and effects of the soil transformation are the first steps in understanding how socio-economic and environmental factors contribute to the current trend. Desertification is the cause, and land degradation is the effect.

According to Spanish scientists, 20 percent of the country’s land is currently degraded due to the climatic and social changes that produced desertification in the past.

“This is historical degradation associated, for example, with deforestation due to the mining industries of the 19th century or to the following expropriation of land from the church at the end of the 19th century into the early 20th, land that was subsequently auctioned for profit,” del Barrio said.

According to the CSIC researchers, this type of landscape is somewhat stable and does not create environmental issues, although it needs restoration.

“A further 30 percent of the land is unproductive with a low biomass, which could be considered mild degradation,” del Barrio said.

When considering the whole country’s territory, only 30 percent of the land is not currently undergoing desertification or at risk of the phenomenon.

“Desertification is always caused by human overexploitation of a natural resource with a slow renewal in drylands, such as groundwater or natural productivity,” del Barrio said. “Normally, it is triggered in a temporal window opportunity associated with a favorable climatic oscillation, such as a rainy period, or a technological development, for instance, a more efficient groundwater extraction.”

In this scenario, “the local population tunes its efforts and economy to such an ephemeral period and becomes trapped when the exploited resource is compromised, either because the climate fluctuates to the opposite end, or because the resource does not support such extraction rate,” del Barrio added. “This is the essence of desertification and is what causes soil degradation.”

Still, researchers found that only one percent of the land is undergoing active degradation, a proportion they say resembles what is to be found in many other areas of the world, such as northeast Brazil, China and the northern Maghreb, among others.

“However, it is important to understand that the corresponding sites are being actively overexploited,” del Barrio said. “They act as black holes in the surrounding landscape, to which they export environmental disorders such as aquifer depletion, flash floods, sequestering of traditional management and more.”

Parts of Levante, the Canary Islands, southern La Mancha, the Ebro Valley, parts of Extremadura and the Sea of Olives in Andalusia are all undergoing active desertification.

Other regions, including Murcia and Huelva, are also on track to join the list if nothing changes.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for ecological transition and the demographic challenge, told the Financial Times that “Spain is the European Union country at greatest risk of desertification” and said the government would announce a new strategy to combat the phenomenon in the coming months.

One of the reasons for Ribera’s stark assessment is that land degradation caused by desertification is almost irreversible on human time scales because those areas’ ecosystems have undergone extreme simplification and lack resilience to significant changes in the environment.

Researchers are working to identify those “irreversibility thresholds,” which will enable farmers, scientists and politicians to take action before a tipping point is reached. Still, many other affected areas can be restored through reforestation or other programs that promote biodiversity.

“The chances of a site to remain degraded, recover or accept recovery, depend largely on its starting condition,” del Barrio said. “This is why we think that maps of land condition, depicting all the states of ecological maturity and not only degraded states, are a great planning tool to manage the landscape conservation and restoration.”

“Therefore, the solution is a careful monitoring approach,” he added. “It can be done using remote sensing of land surface to assess the advance or retreat of land degradation, and many international initiatives are being successful in this line.”

“In parallel, socio-economic processes substantiating desertification can be, and are being, mathematically modeled to explore long-term sustainability and resilience under changing scenarios,” del Barrio continued.

According to the researchers, the challenge is to link both approaches.

“That means to formalize feedbacks between the past, the degraded land and the present, and the desertification processes,” del Barrio said. “Such feedback is known, of course, but has to be coded into proper decision support systems, and this is what keeps a great part of the scientific community occupied.”

Other options that might come into play for olive producers come from finding “an appropriate equilibrium between extensive and intensive management, leaving unused land in between,” del Barrio said.

“For example, greenhouses in Almeria occupy a relatively small extent of land in relation with their production performance,” he added. “While such land use brings about its own issues, and it is, in fact, one of the desertification scenarios we have detected, concentrating production in these areas leaves a large hinterland in a natural or semi-natural state.”

“Therefore, we should avoid bipolarities such as traditional-good versus intensive-bad, which mislead to a simplified ecological Manichaeism,” del Barrio concluded. “Ours is a complex society, and solutions must be based on dynamic equilibria rather than on ideal scenarios.”

How to survive in the desert

Current Biology : Volume 31, Issue 17, 13 September 2021, Pages R1017-R1019



The survival of hardy plant species in the deserts of our planet still has a lot to teach us about the limits of survival and the effects of environmental change.

Recent studies including the genomes of Welwitschia mirabilis from the Namib Desert and related species, as well as the Green Sahara period, also give clues to the evolutionary time axis of adapting to rising arid conditions.

Tibet grass plantation to improve livelihoods

By DAQIONG and PALDEN NYIMA in Lhasa | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-09-04

A major grass plantation in Lhaze county, Shigatse of the Tibet autonomous region is set to contribute to ecological conservation and improve livelihoods, experts said.

Since 2016, the China Environmental Protection Foundation and the Jala Group have been planting grass in Tibet’s cities of Shigatse and Nyingchi, with the area of grass having expanded to more than 370 hectares so far, Chinese financial media outlet Yicai reported.

Dechen Yudron, head of Lhaze county’s Shichen township, where the project is underway, said her township had 156 households and more than 600 residents involved in the project.

“More than 66 hectares of the public field in the township’s Gangshi village is used for grass planting, and we expect the income of each household will exceed more than 1,000 yuan ($155) after harvesting in mid-October,” said Dechen Yudron.

“The grass planting project in our city has been going for five years. It is the first time the project has been implemented in our township this year,” she said.

The grass provides forage and fertilizer, and will improve soil stability.

“The planting begins in spring, and the harvest lasts until October, which provides enough time to help desertification control, and soil and water conservation,” she said.

According to Dechen Yudron, the latest project is in Gangshi village because the village is a semi-herding one, where villagers engage in farming and herding yaks, cows and sheep.

“The villagers have their own land for grazing, but they encounter difficulties with grass shortage in winter and spring, and most villagers have to buy straw,” she said.

Grass cooperative

Dechen Yudron said the regional government encourages most villages to start up cooperative businesses. While most nearby villages operate livestock-breeding cooperatives, Gangshi village undertook a grass plantation.

Dechen Yudron also believes that the project helps fight desertification and soil erosion.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the wheat planted in the Gangshi village is cold and drought tolerant, as well as fast growing. It has a strong root system, can grow two to three meters high, with an average yield of 15 metric tons per hectare.

Tashi is a villager of Gangshi, whose family raises nine cows and 30 sheep on four hectares of grassland.

“It was beyond my imagination that grass so tall could be planted where the average altitude is higher than 4,000 meters,” Yicai quoted Tashi as saying.

Tanba Tsering, Party secretary of Gangshi village, said that the village provides wasteland for the grass projects, and all the other expenses, including for plowing, planting and management are covered by project funders.

“All the planted grass is owned by the villagers who are part of the grass plantation cooperative. Each invested 100 yuan and part of their land into the business,” said Tanba Tsering.

He said stakeholders will have enough straw in the winter, saving each household at least 1,300 yuan to 2,000 yuan a year on straw.

In June, the regional government tested aerial drones for seeding, including both grass and tree seeds in nine counties and districts of the region’s four major cities-Lhasa, Shigatse, Lhokha and Nyingchi.

Rotary takes tree-planting campaign to Lekki community (Nigeria)

To promote sustainable terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, and halt land degradation, the Rotary Club of Lekki Phase 1 has taken its tree-planting campaign to Lekki Peninsula II.

The tree-planting initiative, which is a yearly programme of the club, was meant to tackle effects of climate change and contribute to urban-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Specifically, the President of Rotary Club of Lekki Phase 1, Mrs Ifeoma Anieze-Corona, said the tree-planting initiative is one of the service areas of Rotary, aimed at saving the environment and helping to save a life.
Speaking with The Guardian at the tree-planting event held at Oral Estate in Lekki Penninsula II, to mark the yearly programme, the President said the club does not only plant trees but also monitors and nurtures them.

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To promote sustainable terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, and halt land degradation, the Rotary Club of Lekki Phase 1 has taken its tree-planting campaign to Lekki Peninsula II.

President, Rotary Club of Lekki Phase 1, Mrs Ifeoma Anieze-Coron ( Left), and the past Assistant Governor, Rotary District 9110, Kayode Aderinokun, during a tree planting event held recenlty in Lekki.
The tree-planting initiative, which is a yearly programme of the club, was meant to tackle effects of climate change and contribute to urban-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Specifically, the President of Rotary Club of Lekki Phase 1, Mrs Ifeoma Anieze-Corona, said the tree-planting initiative is one of the service areas of Rotary, aimed at saving the environment and helping to save a life.

Speaking with The Guardian at the tree-planting event held at Oral Estate in Lekki Penninsula II, to mark the yearly programme, the President said the club does not only plant trees but also monitors and nurtures them.
“What we do is when we want to plant trees, we partner with people within our area of service. In all these new estates, most of them are just there without trees and for our concern for the environment, we just approach them. Also, we plant these trees in the areas where they can be monitored,” she said.

Meanwhile, she complained of the bureaucratic processes the club had to pass through before some of its projects were approved, calling on the state government to lighten the process of getting approval to carry out humanitarian works in state-owned public institutions.

“For instance, when you want to go to the hospital to do anything, you have to go to the government first and sometimes, it really delays.”

Even the schools, when we go to the schools, for instance, to distribute educational materials, you have to get permission first.
“Although we don’t really mind, the process prolongs things. So, I think the government should see the positivity in what we are doing and try to lighten the process of approval,” she added.
In his remarks, the past Assistant Governor of Rotary District 9110, Kayode Aderinokun, said the programme was Rotary’s contribution towards the efforts in managing the environment.
He said: “The environment is becoming a very important concern. To some people, environmental issues are remote matters. We think the major concern of humanity is to have shelter, food and livelihood, but little by little, the environment is threatening all these, either directly or indirectly.”
Also, the Public Image Chair of the club, Okechukwu Nnoli, said tree planting should not be left for non-governmental organisations and the government alone, but should be done at all levels.

He said: “Tree planting is very vital right now as we have a serious pandemic and apart from that, we have a global warming issue. All these things are all interrelated in one way or the other, especially in the aspect of global warming and desertification, with more emphasis on sustainability of the environment, which indirectly gives sustainability of life generally.”

Turkmenistan to renew version of national action plan to combat desertification

By Klavdiya Romakayeva – Trend:

Turkmenistan plans to develop a new version of the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification (NAPCD), Trend reports with reference to the Ashgabat’s information portal.

The mentioned issue was discussed at a working meeting held in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), on the basis of the National Institute of Deserts, Flora and Wildlife to update the National Action Plan of Turkmenistan to Combat Desertification, adopted in 1997.

The working meeting was attended by representatives of the parliament of Turkmenistan, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the State Committee for Water Resources, employees of synergistic projects in the agro-ecological direction with the participation of UNDP (United Nations Development Program).

During the meeting, the sides discussed national programs and plans in the field of combating desertification, integrated management of natural resources.

As part of the implementation of the National Action Plan, as well as with the aim of combating land degradation, the Land (2004) and Water (2006) Codes were revised. Within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Turkmenistan joined the Paris Agreement and ratified it on October 20, 2016, in 2019 the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change was updated, in December 2020, the National Strategy of the country on development of RES, preparation of the first biennial report (BUR-1) is also ongoing.

Since 2020, the Intersectoral Commission on Environmental Protection has been operating, which deals with issues related to the implementation of climate policy. It is planned to establish a Secretariat that will provide technical support in the form of mobilization and coordination of all financial flows and technical resources related to climate change issues.

It is reported that in March 2021, the government commission was established to coordinate the national system for monitoring the earth’s surface, which will solve the problem of collecting “information on the state of the earth’s surface from space, studying, processing data, as well as training and education of relevant specialists.”

Also, the meeting participants discussed the results of the work of previously completed projects, as well as the national reports on droughts and dust storms recently compiled within the framework of CAREC projects, which can serve as useful analytical material for the development of a new NAPCD.

In addition, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) project manager Rahman Khanekov said that this meeting is an introductory meeting, and in the future the project team will accept proposals and recommendations of representatives of government agencies to develop a new version of the NAPCD, work on which will be a priority in the plans for the next year.

According to the information, the target areas will be pasture and forestry, as well as measures to combat desertification.