New FAO report highlights urgent need to restore Africa’s degraded landscape

Up to 65 per cent of productive land is degraded, while desertification affects 45 per cent of Africa’s land area.

© FAO/Luis TatoUp to 65 per cent of productive land is degraded, while desertification affects 45 per cent of Africa’s land area.

29 September 2021Climate and Environment

The first-ever stocktake of Africa’s forests and landscapes, which was released on Wednesday finds slow progress in repairing Africa’s degraded lands and urges ramped up efforts for climate action.

Launched during Africa Climate Week, and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the Review of Forest and Landscape Restoration in Africa 2021, shows, that more needs to be done to tap the continent’s opportunity to return land to sustainable production, protect biodiversity, and shield livelihoods in the battle against climate change.

“Despite our efforts, every year more forest disappears, costing the continent a three per cent loss of GDP”, said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

The analysis has been published by FAO together with the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD. 

A grim assessment

Up to 65 per cent of productive land is degraded, while desertification affects 45 per cent of Africa’s land area, according to the review.

And while the overall trend is moving downward, net loss of forests is still increasing in Africa, with four million hectares of forest disappearing every year.

Moreover, Africa’s drylands are increasingly more vulnerable to climate change and their restoration is a priority for adaptation and building resilient and sustainable food systems.

“Degraded forest landscapes intensify the effects of climate change and are a barrier to building resilient and prosperous communities when 60 percent of Africans depend on their land and their forests”, said the FAO official.

Local engagement is key

Most of the projects assessed in the Review have a strong climate change dimension that not only aims to sequester carbon but also to create jobs and reduce the vulnerabilities of rural people to food insecurity.

A quick glance

Africa has one billion hectares of drylands, 393 million hectares of which need restoration in Africa’s Great Green Wall areas.

AFR100 has committed 31 African Governments to restoring 100 million hectares by 2030 – a challenge already exceeded. 

Africa has an estimated additional 132 million hectares of degraded cropland, which combined with climate change, makes millions more vulnerable.

Around 45 percent of Africa’s land is impacted by desertification, 55 per cent of which is at very high risk of further desertification.

The report identifies local ownership as being fundamental for success, while high-level political support and access to finance are also crucial.  

“Extending well beyond tree-planting, forest and landscape restoration is an all-encompassing approach to returning trees and forests to landscapes where they have been lost and is of great benefit to sustainable food production, building resilience and disaster risk reduction”, said Nora Berrahmouni, FAO Senior Forestry Officer covering Africa, and one of the review’s lead authors.

Trials ahead

Difficulties with longer-term finance, land tenure and property rights are major challenges, according to the assessment.

Other roadblocks include insecurity and conflict, lack of technical capacity and restricted access due to poor infrastructure. 

“African countries and their partners need to continue to scale-up their efforts in forest and landscape restoration as a viable solution to climate change and building forward better in response to COVID-19, while also protecting their natural capital”, said Ms. Berrahmouni.

“It’s a long-term process but it is a sustainable, forward-looking solution”, she added.Extreme weather like widespread drought is causing economic losses amongst farmers in Africa.UN Photo/Albert González FarranExtreme weather like widespread drought is causing economic losses amongst farmers in Africa.

 

The water situation in the agriculture intense state of Punjab

Report predicts desertification of Punjab in 25 years; how alarming is the water situation in the agriculture intense state

By: FE Online | Updated: September 29, 2021 5:42 PM

In Punjab, the dwellers are drawing out more water than it is getting replenished as a result the water table is getting depleted day by day, posing a threat of desertification for the state.

punjab, desertification, punjab depleting water layer, punjab paddy cultivation, green revolution in punjab, punjab water condition reportPunjab started paddy cultivation majorly after Green revolution. (Indian Express Image)

The water table in Punjab is at a dangerous stage and a study by Punjab Vidhan Sabha committee suggests that the state that draws major part of its income from cultivation might run out of water and turn to a desert in the next 25 years if the current trend of drawing water from underground aquifers continues. A prediction done over two decades also said that the aquifers will run out of water by 2025.

How report of a study done two decades ago said

The study titled ‘The State of the World Report, 1998 conducted by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) official and published in Washington-based World Watch Institute (WWI) said aquifers will be depleted by 2025.

Why report says Punjab (land of five rivers) turn into a desert

In Punjab, the dwellers are drawing out more water than it is getting replenished as a result the water table is getting depleted day by day, posing a threat of desertification for the state. The rate of underground water extraction is 1.66 times more than replenishment.

109 out of 138 blocks are already over-exploited with 100 per cent groundwater extraction. Two of the blocks are in ‘dark/critical’ zone while five others are in the semi-critical zone. Hence, 80 per cent blocks of the state have already dried up and four per cent are on the verge of it.

The 22 blocks in South west Punjab where ground water rises also is filled with saline or brackish water unsuitable for human consumption or cultivation. Water is available at 20 to 30 meters, or more than 30 meters down, in around 84 per cent of Punjab. Framers are spending huge amounts to get deeper and deeper pumps for extraction of water for cultivation.

Why waterbeds are over-exploited in Punjab

The Green Revolution in the state in 1966-67 made the farmers there take up paddy farming that was historically never the main crop there. Area under it increased from 2.93 lakh hectares during the advent of the revolution to 31.49 LS in 2020 , highest ever area under rice cultivation in the history of Punjab. This caused an 11-time increase in rice area in five decades.

Dr. Rajan Aggarwal, a senior research engineer, department of soil and water engineering, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), and Chief Scientist in All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) said that the puddling method of rice cultivation resulted in disturbing the replenishment system, creating flash floods and wasting rain water to evaporation.

How both the studies calculated 25 years for drying up of aquifers

Two decades ago water was available at a depth of 3010 meters in most districts. But now it is available at 20 meters depth in 84 per cent of the states that require deep tubewells to extract water.

Paddy takes at least 4,000 liters of water to grow one kg of rice and by this calculation and considering the current situation in the coming 25 to 27 years the entire Pu jab will slide to the dark zone, putting a question mark on sustainability of agriculture if control measures are not accepted.

Dr. Rajan, added that like upper aquifers even deeper aquifers can also dry up if mindless extraction of groundwater is not controlled.

See also : “Explained: Two reports, 2 decades apart, predicted Punjab’s desertification in 25 years. Here’s why they are both right”

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/punjab-water-crisis-report-7540278/

Refugees in Cameroon help build ‘Great Green Wall’ to combat desertification

Refugees and host communities in northern Cameroon have planted 360,000 seedlings, transforming the environment in and around Minawao refugee camp.

By Xavier Bourgois in Minawao, Cameroon  |  22 September 2021  

“Once you have planted it, make sure you protect it from animals by putting brambles around it,” Lydia Yacoubou, a Nigerian refugee, advises a young refugee girl before handing her a neem seedling grown in the nursery she manages at Minawao refugee camp in north-eastern Cameroon.


The girl trots off, carrying her little brother on her back and clutching the plant to her chest. 

Lydia turns her attention to a dozen other children who have come looking for fruit trees, acacias or moringas to plant around their homes. Eventually, they will provide fruit, medicine and much more. 

“The trees bring us a lot,” says Lydia. “First, they provide the shade necessary to grow food. Then, the dead leaves and branches can be turned into a fertilizer for cultivating. Finally, the forest attracts and retains water. Rainfall has even increased.”

Minawao hosts nearly 70,000 refugees who have fled violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency in neighbouring Nigeria since 2014. In an arid region already badly affected by climate change, the refugees’ arrival accelerated the desertification process as they cut down the few surrounding trees for firewood.

“It was crucial to find a solution.”

“It is hard to describe the depth of the impact the disappearance of the forest has had on populations,” says Zara Maina, a field assistant with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. “The price of wood has risen considerably, causing conflicts with host communities. Women were forced to walk far into the bush to fetch wood, exposing themselves to potential attacks. Animals found it increasingly difficult to feed themselves. It was crucial to find a solution.” 

Faced with this ecological and human disaster, UNHCR and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) launched a unique programme in 2018 aimed at reversing deforestation in the camp and surrounding villages. 

Refugees received training on how to use “cocoon technology”, developed by Land Life Company, to give seedlings the best chance of survival in the harsh environment. It involves burying a doughnut-shaped water tank made from recycled cartons that surrounds the plant’s roots and feeds it using a string that connects to the young shoot. 

“Since the beginning of the project, 360,000 seedlings have been grown in the nursery and planted on more than 100 hectares,” explains Abdul Aziz, LWF’s project coordinator. “The camp was almost deforested, but this project has helped to repair the vegetation cover.” 

Paid for by a US$2.7 million donation from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the programme is part of the Great Green Wall initiative which aims to grow an 8,000-kilometre continent-wide barrier to combat land degradation, desertification and drought in the Sahel.

The project is also part of a UNHCR strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with refugee camps and preserve local environments. The approach includes scaling-up tree planting and clean cooking programmes, investing in solar energy systems and reducing plastic waste.

The first trees planted four years ago are now providing enough shade for families to grow crops, something that was not possible previously.

“Before, during the dry season, the sun was so intense that everything burned,” recalls UNHCR’s Zara Maina. 

Seen from the sky, the evolution of the site in a few years is striking. Video footage shot in 2018 showed vast stretches of sand surrounding buildings and shelters. Now the land is covered with vegetation. But progress remains fragile, with refugees and locals still in need of fuel for cooking and heat. 

To address this need, UNHCR and LWF are promoting alternative energy sources. Families in the camp can send their household waste to charcoal production centres where trained refugees turn it into coal they can use in specially adapted stoves. 

LWF’s Abdul Aziz says the “ecological coal” has reduced the need to cut trees for firewood as well as tensions between refugees and locals. While refugees volunteer to work in the nursery and planting trees, coal production has become a source of income for many families. 

Fibi Ibrahim, a refugee and mother of five who has lived in Minawao since 2016, is one of a cooperative of around 100 women who produce and sell coal and the adapted stoves in Minawao. 

“The money I make selling charcoal briquettes allows me to buy soap, seasoning and meat to supplement the family’s rations,” says Fibi. “I hope that soon, when I have saved enough money, I can start my own shop in the camp and fully meet the needs my household.”

Biological Feedbacks in Global Desertification

WILLIAM H. SCHLESINGER, JAMES F. REYNOLDS, GARY L. CUNNINGHAM, LAURA F. HUENNEKE, WESLEY M. JARRELL, ROSS A. VIRGINIA, AND WALTER G. WHITFORD,

SCIENCE•2 Mar 1990•Vol 247, Issue 4946•pp. 1043-1048•

DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4946.1043

Abstract

Studies of ecosystem processes on the Jornada Experimental Range in southern New Mexico suggest that long-term grazing of semiarid grasslands leads to an increase in the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of water, nitrogen, and other soil resources.

Heterogeneity of soil resources promotes invasion by desert shrubs, which leads to a further localization of soil resources under shrub canopies. In the barren area between shrubs, soil fertility is lost by erosion and gaseous emissions. This positive feedback leads to the desertification of formerly productive land in southern New Mexico and in other regions, such as the Sahel.

Future desertification is likely to be exacerbated by global climate warming and to cause significant changes in global biogeochemical cycles.

43 Million Trees to Fight Climate Change (Ruanda)

Rwanda to Plant Over 43 Million Trees to Fight Climate Change

The country is on a mission to tackle desertificationhttps://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/rwanda-plant-43-million-trees-climate-change/

By Khanyi MlabaSeptember 16, 2021

Rwanda’s Minister of the Environment, Dr. Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya, just revealed the next steps in the country’s race towards zero carbon emissions: the planting of over 43 million trees across the country to help fight desertification. 

The tree-planting campaign is set to kick off in October and will last for two months. It aims to highlight the importance of trees and forests and the role they can play in tackling climate change. The announcement was made on Sept. 13 at the launch of the EU’s climate diplomacy in the country. 

“The Ministry of Environment reiterates its commitment to keep working with the EU and other accredited development partners in various initiatives aiming at supporting the protection of environment and climate change agenda,” said Dr. Mujawamariya.

Already one of the leading African countries in determined climate action, this new campaign will help put Rwanda on track to reach its target of cutting 38% of carbon emissions by 2030.  The minister went on to briefly explain how the country would achieve the feat of planting over 43 million trees. 

“Around 31 million seedlings will be freely distributed to the communities and 12 million seedlings are expected to be produced by private operators who will sell them,” she said.

(Continued)

India is experiencing desertification of land, including cultivable and fertile stretches and forests, at a pace not seen in the past.

Save land from desertification

DHNS, SEP 19 2021

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/save-land-from-desertification-1032195.html

India is experiencing desertification of land, including cultivable and fertile stretches and forests, at a pace not seen in the past. The government recently published the latest version of the country’s desertification and land degradation atlas prepared by the Indian Space Research Organisation, which provides details of degraded land for the period 2018-19. It also provides an analysis for the previous 15 years. It has been noted that about 30% of the land area has got degraded, and ironically the areas where the Green Revolution was most successful are very prone to degradation. Desertification is a natural geological process. But it has been given a push directly and indirectly by human activities, and so it has gained scale

and speed as never before. It is a global problem but every country has to address it separately because the reasons and solutions vary widely. But there are also common issues that demand the adoption of common strategies.

(Continued)

Action planned

(China)

By VLADIMIR NOROV | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-14 – http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202109/14/WS613fe38fa310e0e3a6821510.html

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

(Malta)

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/managing-an-agriculture-crisis.900194

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)

https://theconversation.com/how-countries-alongside-the-sahara-can-restore-productive-land-faster-166595

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 – https://punchng.com/desertification-kano-to-plant-1m-trees/

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 : https://dailytrust.com/kano-to-plant-1m-trees-to-fight-desertification

Measures to fight desertification in Ruoergai County, SW China

By Ding Qian – https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-09-13/Measures-to-fight-desertification-in-Ruoergai-County-SW-China-13w9LgxcaEU/index.html

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 – https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/world/one-fifth-of-italy-at-risk-of-desertification-irrigation-experts-warn/96788

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.

world-onefifth-of-italy-at-risk-of-desertification-irrigation-experts-warn-olive-oil-times
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.”