Without sustainable land management, Pakistan faces major risks from desertificationJul 21, 2017
Millions of Pakistanis depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. With almost 80 percent of the country’s area consisting of arid or semi-arid land, however, much of Pakistan’s agricultural land is vulnerable to desertification - the process by which arable land becomes desert due to drought, deforestation, inappropriate agricultural practices, the effects of climate change, or a combination of all of these. As Pakistan’s population grows and the effects of climate change take hold, desertification has become a major source of concern for the country’s fragile ecosystem.
As part of global efforts to combat desertification and drought, the Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP), a project supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held a seminar at the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University in Rawalpindi with the theme of Combating Desertification in Pakistan. This seminar commemorated World Day to Combat Desertification, celebrated globally on 17 June 2017, and was accompanied by a walk to increase public awareness of this important challenge to Pakistan’s economy and wellbeing.
“Desertification is a global phenomenon, affecting the livelihoods of 900 million people across the five continents and representing a third of worldwide threats to biodiversity,” said Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan, while addressing students and guests in attendance at the seminar. “It requires global attention and local action,” he emphasized.
The seminar concluded with a tree plantation ceremony, symbolizing the importance of combating desertification and land degradation in Pakistan.
SLMP aims to implement United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and implement sustainable land management practices over entire landscapes in arid and semi-arid landscapes. The project is supporting the development of comprehensive land use policies, providing training to individuals and institutions across Pakistan, and helping develop district and village level land use plans to improve practices at the local level.