One of the greatest environmental challenges that the world is facing today is desertification and it is getting worse because of climate change. Discuss.

India hosted 14th COP to UN Convention on Desertification which brought to light concerns & challenges around desertification.

Nearly 30% of India’s land is undergoing desertification.

Desertification: An environmental challenge:

  • Loss of biodiversity – biodiversity is always supported by land, e.g. Himalayan biodiversity is eroding due to desertification.
  • Reduced ground water recharge due to tree cover loss. It will aggravate the water scarcity.
  • Greater vulnerability to natural disasters, e.g. Mangrove loss reduces the buffer against cyclones and tsunami.
  • Other challenges such as food security, livelihood losses for farmers & nomads, etc.

Climate Change: Exacerbating Desertification:

  • Increased frequency of droughts and floods, e.g. Central & Western India becoming dryer.
  • Enhanced frequency of natural disasters, e.g. last decade witnessed most number of severe cyclones in coastal region.
  • Wildfires risk increasing, e.g. Australian bushfire due to a dryer year.
  • Ocean warming & changed wind patterns are causing dry winds in some regions and wetter in other regions, causing destruction of natural biodiversity.

Way Forward:

  • Climate resilient planning approaches, e.g. NAPCC (National Action Plan on Climate Change).
  • Enhanced impetus to reforestation via locally suited trees.
  • Fulfil commitments to UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification).

India’s commitment to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 via planting trees is a step in right direction.

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