29% of global land area is at risk of desertification

Climate change is responsible for the advancement of desertification


Desertification, a form of soil degradation that is measured by monitoring plant cover and soil productivity, is a rapidly growing threat: 29% of the global territory is affected, where over 3 billion people live, while large slices of our country are already included in the series. Others will soon.

Desertification is now a global phenomenon, which does not only affect the most desert areas of the globe. Climate change and an inattentive management of natural resources endanger the fertility of the land, in the north of the world as well as in the south, and agricultural production.

On the occasion of the World Day for the fight against desertification, which falls every June 17, Snpa analyzed the situation in Italy explaining that “10% of the territory is very vulnerable. Sicily is the most affected region (42.9% of the regional surface), followed by Molise, Basilicata (24.4%) and Sardinia (19.1%) “.

What are the causes of this global phenomenon? “As always in environmental issues there is not a single culprit, but a series of causes – continues Snpa – Climate changes have changed rainfall, increased temperature and drought, resulting in insufficient availability of water for the soil, for vegetation and production activities (agriculture in the first place). Then there is an inattentive management of natural resources, water, soil and vegetation. The soil is consumed excessively and harmful agricultural practices are used. “

Degradation on a global scale is now calculated through satellite data that photograph plant cover and soil productivity. Between 1998 and 2013, a percentage equal to 20-30% of the earth’s surface showed declining trends in productivity. Thanks to satellite observation of the European program Copernicus, it has been estimated that 12% of the land cultivated with vegetation shows a drop in productivity and that 21% is at risk.

Italian citizens are not aware of the problem of desertification or do not consider it serious, as highlighted by the Ipsos survey conducted for Finish in December 2019 and made known yesterday: only 10% of the interviewees, looking at today, expressed concern for desertification, a percentage that rises to 19% looking to the future. The problem is that if no law enforcement action is taken immediately, the future will be a big problem.

“On the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, I want to remind you of the importance of making our daily behavior as sustainable as possible.” So in a note the Minister of the Environment Sergio Costa.

For this year, the chosen theme is “Fight against Desertification for Sustainable Agriculture” in line with the issues covered by the Sustainable Development Commission for the current two-year period. “We must reduce waste of resources, stop pollution and deforestation, balance the consumption of products of animal origin. It must be done immediately if we want to preserve the biodiversity heritage and the resources of the Earth “.

Water waste is a problem that affects Italy very closely, where 4.5 billion cubic meters of drinking water are wasted every year just because of a colander water network. Interventions aimed at contrasting the phenomenon of desertification are therefore necessary, as also desired by Costa.

“Taking action to combat drought and desertification means continuing quickly in actions to combat climate change – concluded the Minister -. We did this by putting the environment at the center of the recovery for the first time, stimulating green infrastructure, stimulating the Italian green deal and implementing, in this period of exit and recovery from the Covid epidemic, a desirable and most necessary green revolution”.

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