MoCC Initiatives Underway To Stem Land Degradation Through Afforestation
Soaring land degradation in Pakistan threatens the country's efforts for achieving food security, stemming rural-urban migration and land-related conflicts, said Mohammad Saleem, spokesperson Ministry of Climate Change Ministry
Land degradation, among other factors, caused by deforestation, desertification, soil erosion, salinity and water-logging and unsustainable intensive agricultural practices and exacerbated by climate shifts had made the ecological deterioration worst, he said.
Explaining adverse impacts of climate shifts on degrading lands in the country, he said climate change was further making it harder to grow enough food for an expanding population at a time when land was being degraded because of deforestation, unsustainable crop-growing and grazing styles.
Pakistan is ranked among the top ten countries "most affected by global warming-induced extreme weather events", according to the Global Climate Risk Index, released by German watch, an international public policy research body.
The media spokesperson and environmentalist quoting UN's Food and Agriculture Organization study 'Land Degradation in South Asia: its Severity, Causes and Effects, said around 61 percent of the agriculture land in Pakistan was degraded and over 60 percent of natural grazing areas of the country had production levels lower than one-third of their biological potential. More than one-third of the total area had been classified as vulnerable to desertification.
MoCC media spokesperson said, "Land degradation is mounting pressures on lands used for tilling, turning arable lands infertile and un-cultivable," he said and warned, "This will only mar the country's ability to achieve food security and scale down resultant threats to hunger, malnutrition, rural employment. This is also leading rise in rural-urban migration and community-level conflicts." For instance, in poor and marginalized or deprived communities, land degradation fragments families and force young people to leave home and move to urban centers in search of livelihoods, he explained.
Mohammad Saleem further said, "It leads to friction and conflicts over access to land and water last longer, affecting overall community development deepening rural hunger, malnutrition and joblessness." He suggested that expanding forest cover to degraded lands and desertification-hit lands after their restoration, introducing sustainable farming or tilling and grazing practices would help protect fragile soils, rainwater harvesting, efficient water storage and management for irrigation, forestry and other uses. However, along with all these measures protecting wetlands was of critical importance to stabilize and roll back land degradation, he added.
The spokesperson said plans and programs had been already devised and being implemented by the ministry in support with international, national and provincial stakeholder organizations to fight land degradation restore damaged areas.
He noted that Prime Minister's billion Tree Tsunami Programme and Clean and Green Pakistan Programme, UNDP-supported Sustainable Land Management Programme, World Bank-sponsored Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD+) Readiness programme were among the key interventions launched by the climate change ministry to fight land degradation, restore degraded forest lands, fight droughts, aridity air pollution, promote cleanliness, environmental conservation and protection.
"Through and in these critical programmes hammered out by the climate change ministry, greater importance has been assigned to adaptation measures in forestry, sustainable agriculture, rainwater harvesting, water management and building climate-resilient water infrastructure areas to cope with land degradation challenges,"Mohammad Saleem highlighted.