World Environment Day 2024: Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience.

Every June 5th, the global community observes World Environment Day. Hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, This year’s theme, “Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience,” highlights pressing environmental issues that need urgent attention. The event coincides with the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, emphasizing sustainable land management in arid and semi-arid regions.

The Urgency of Land Restoration
Land degradation is a critical global issue impacting food security, biodiversity, and climate mitigation. Up to 40% of the Earth’s land is degraded, affecting half of the global GDP and increasing the frequency and duration of droughts by 29% since 2000. Without immediate action, droughts could affect three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.

Human activities like drilling, extraction, and mining have significantly degraded land and disrupted ecosystems, contributing to climate change. Land restoration, which involves rehabilitating degraded land to restore its ecological function and productivity, is essential for several reasons:

• Food Security: Healthy land is essential for agriculture, ensuring a stable food supply for the growing global population.

• Biodiversity: Restoring land protects and revives habitats for countless species, enhancing biodiversity.

• Climate Mitigation: Restored lands act as carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and helping to mitigate climate change.

In Nigeria, land degradation due to poor land use and policy has been significant. Presently, about 80% of Nigerians live in their own homes, most of which don’t have trees and flowers planted. This shows a significant unawareness of the importance of trees and flowers as a means of land restoration.

Educating communities and implementing policies that encourage land restoration can develop green environments, enrich soil nutrients, and manage water during rainfall. Activities like reforestation, soil improvement, erosion control, watershed management, and biodiversity conservation are crucial for climate change mitigation.

Desertification and Drought Resilience Desertification, the transformation of fertile land into desert typically due to drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture, affects millions globally by reducing arable land and agricultural productivity. Drought resilience involves developing systems and practices that allow societies to withstand and recover from prolonged periods of water scarcity. This includes efficient water management, drought-resistant crops, and water conservation technologies.

Combating desertification and enhancing drought resilience requires:

• The adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.

• Development of integrated scenarios for changing societal behaviors(modern and traditional) that affect and intensify desertification.

• Wind effect mitigation by constructing barriers and stabilizing sand dunes with local plants. Especially, in the Northern parts of Nigeria that are near the Sahara.

• Reforestation to fix soil, act as windbreakers, and absorb stormwater.

• Education and training for local communities.

It’s important that all stakeholders come together to fight against land degradation and ensure a sustainable environment is achieved.

A Call to Action
World Environment Day 2024 serves as a powerful reminder of the urgent need to restore our lands and build resilience against desertification and drought. It calls for coordinated efforts from governments, corporations, communities, and individuals to implement sustainable practices and innovative solutions. By working together, we can ensure our planet’s lands remain fertile and productive, securing a sustainable future for generations to come. As we celebrate this important day, let us commit to actions, big and small, to restore our lands and address environmental challenges.

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