50 lakh hectares hit by desertification to be restored (Lead)

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) India has set a target to restore in the next 10 years 50 lakh hectares of land affected by desertification or degradation, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar announced on Tuesday.

"The process will be carried out by adopting the landscape restoration approach, which is crucial to converting the infertile land to fertile. The process involves a scientific approach and techniques," Javadekar said.

India is facing a huge challenge as 29 per cent of its land surface was degraded. This translated to 960 hectares of the country's geography. "We have to make this land fertile," he said.

He said land degradation or desertification was caused due to overexploitation, overgrazing, water logging and removal of topsoil by winds or floods.

India is hosting Conference of Parties (COP) 14 of United Nations convention from September 2 to 13 to combat desertification.

The Minister pointed out that the conference was crucial as one-third of the world's land area was either affected by desertification or was degraded.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the event, he added that the country would implement the resolutions adopted at the New Delhi Declaration.

A centre of excellence to combat the desertification of the fertile land will be created at the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun.

"This Centre will conduct the baseline mapping, mapping of the existing schemes and programmes, setting priorities and achieving transformative projects. The Centre will help the world by conducting research and promote learning of best practices among the nations."

Javadekar said that on September 9 and 10 the New Delhi Declaration would be signed.

"The country will steer the world in the right direction by taking cooperation from all countries. Over 200 countries and 3,000 delegates have confirmed their participation," he said.

The 12-day convention will see the participation of officials from the United Nations, experts and several non-governmental organisations.

Elaborating on some of the topics to be discussed, an official said the connection between the land pockets and gender will be deliberated upon.

"Land rights have predominantly been available with male members. It would be interesting to deliberate that the women could play a vital role in nurturing their land pockets like their children and the importance of providing and ownership of agrarian land to them," he said.

The convention will also deliberate on finding a solution to lessen the impact of natural events such as climate change on land degradation and how the world community can take up the technology and funds transfer to help countries in need, another official said.

--IANS

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Source : ians

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