If India's target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 is not achieved, no land would be left considering immense pressure due to rising population, environment experts said on Tuesday. Speaking at the ongoing 14th session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the experts said proper land management was the need of the hour due to the growing pressure on it.
"Land degradation target set by the country is highly ambitious. But it must be achieved as we are losing land and water. Lot of money is needed. Land is under immense pressure due to rising population. If LDN target is not achieved, there will be no land left," Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said. Sharing his view, C R Babu, professor emeritus at the Delhi University, said there were pieces of land waiting to be restored, including the land where coal mining has been done.
"Land degradation is caused by deforestation, grazing, soil erosion, mining, climate change and other factors. But restoration can be done by selecting appropriate plant species. "Coal mine land can be converted into dense forests. We have already restored 250 hectares of limestone mining area into forests," Babu said.
Expressing concern over carbon emissions as a result of land degradation, Bhushan said deforestation and land degradation account for approximately 17 per cent of carbon emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector. Bhushan, who moderated a session on the second day of the COP 14 on 'Climate Co-Benefits of Programmes to Combat Land Desertification', said every year 2.6 to 4.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is emitted due to land degradation, and its restoration can help in creating carbon sink by sequestering it.
Carbon sequestration is a long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to either mitigate or defer global warming and avoid dangerous climate change. "There is more carbon in soil than in atmosphere. Every year 3.4 to 4.4 billion tonnes of CO2 emission takes place due to land degradation. However, land is also the solution to climate change," he said.
India is hosting the UNCCD's COP 14 at New Delhi from September 2 to 13 during which the parties will come up with a 'Delhi Declaration', which would decide the course of action to combat desertification. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who took over the presidency of the COP from China on Monday, said India is focused to achieve its land degradation neutrality target by 2030. As per the minister, 50 lakh hectare of land has to be restored by India.
He also said he was sure that the COP will have positive outcomes with a huge participation. The COP is being attended by more than 195 countries and nearly 8,000 representatives.
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