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Land degradation, desertification increasing: ISRO atlas

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    1st Sep, 2021

Context

The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has provided useful information about land degradation in India citing the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas.

Mapping land degradation

As per data given, land degradation year-wise

  • In 2003-05, 94.53 mha (28.76 per cent of the total geographical area (TGA) underwent land degradation.
  • In 2011-13, the number increased to 96.40 mha (29.32 percent of the TGA).
  • Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India: During 2018-19, 97.85 million hectares (mha) of India’s total geographical area (TGA) of 328.72 mha underwent land degradation.
  • Space Applications Centre (SAC)’s Atlas (June 2021): 7 percent of the country’s land in this year became degraded.
    • SAC comes under ISRO.
  • PM Modi claimed that India is working to restore 26 mha of degraded land by 2030 while speaking at the UN High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought.
  • India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris signed on June 17, 1994.

What is Land Degradation?

  • Land degradation is the deterioration or loss of the productive capacity of the soils for present and future.
  • It is caused by multiple forces, including extreme weather conditions, particularly drought.
  • It is also caused by human activities that pollute or degrade the quality of soils and land utility.

Land desertification

  • Besides land degradation, desertification had also increased.
  • Land degradation within dry land regions (arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions) is termed as ‘desertification’.
  • Desertification is a form of land degradation by which fertile land becomes desert.  
  • Besides land degradation, desertification had also increased.

Causes of land desertification

  • Loss of soil cover, mainly due to rainfall and surface runoff
  • Water erosion
  • Vegetation degradation
  • Wind erosion

Various institutions for land conservation

  • Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (IISWC): Bio-engineering measures to check soil erosion due to run-off of rain water
  • CentralArid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur: Sand dune stabilization and shelter belt technology to check wind erosion
  • Council through Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal: Reclamation technology, sub-surface drainage, bio-drainage, agro forestry interventions and salt tolerant crop varieties to improve the productivity of saline, sodic and waterlogged soils in the country.
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