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Land conservation: India's new mantra for global ecosystem restoration

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 11th August, 2021 04:13:42 PM
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Land conservation: India's new mantra for global ecosystem restoration
Given the rapid pace at which afforestation has taken roots in India, the new target for rejuvenation of barren land by the year 2030 is to the tune of 26 million hectares. — Courtesy file photo

India is on track to achieve its national commitment of land degradation neutrality, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently.

Leading by example, India has added 3 million hectares of forest area in the past decade alone as part of its efforts to save the environment, and by extension, all of humankind.

Indian PM made the remarks during a keynote address at the UN "High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land degradation and Drought".

"As the strongest pillar on which our ancient societies have functioned since time immemorial, land has had a lasting impact on the economy, agriculture, environment and quality of life as a whole. However, with the advent of organized agricultural farming, a population boom has gradually led to a situation where 1/5th of the total area of land of the world has now degraded. Needless to say, there has been a severe adverse impact on the quality of life, food security as well as measures toward ensuring poverty eradication. Affecting about 40 percent of the global population, countless livelihoods are today endangered because of land degradation," the Indian prime minister remarked.

He said that the thrust on rejuvenating barren land and sustained afforestation has caught many in the world by surprise. However, for Indians, it is merely the performance of duty of a child toward the mother since Earth is referred to as such in the nation’s cultural traditions.

Given the rapid pace at which afforestation has taken roots in India, the new target for rejuvenation of barren land by the year 2030 is to the tune of 26 million hectares. Though it seems like an ambitious target for the coming decade, these efforts at having a greener India would ensure that about 3 billion tons of carbon emissions are prevented. Such mitigation measures would play a significant role in the process of ensuring carbon neutrality for India in the times to come. Towards that end, a multi-pronged approach has been undertaken. These include focusing on the areas that are most susceptible to turning barren such as the Kutch region in Gujarat or the areas adjacent to the Thar in Rajasthan. Planting a specific grass variety to boost the fertility of the land has proven to be a very effective natural method at afforestation, PM Modi added.

Unlike most countries, India's mantra has been crystal clear: the need to act on the matter is immediate so that society is able to pass on a healthier planet for the generations to come. In furtherance of that idea, a Centre of Excellence has also been set up to promote and analyze a scientific approach towards the issue of land degradation, he pointed out.

According to PM Modi, a well-thought strategy towards monitoring the progress different states are making in real-time along with consistent feedback towards improving the implementation of such policies would ensure that India is able to meet the set target well in advance as it did with the Paris Climate Agreement standards for emissions.

He also said that in addition to abiding by its own targets, India has time and again proceeded ahead with the spirit of cooperation. Aiding the global South and developing countries, India has lent its expertise in ensuring that these countries are able to develop long-term and short-term land restoration strategies as well. This has held India in good stead on the diplomatic front too. As a consequence, India has gradually taken center stage when it comes to all major environmental protection measures that include the International Solar Alliance.

"It is not surprising then that due to such valued commitments towards our holy mother Earth, India has managed to stand by its principles of managing the soil well without exploiting it. In fact, apart from being on track to meet the national commitments towards land degradation neutrality, India has managed to achieve an additional carbon sink of 3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent," PM Modi remarked.

Therefore, it is now the sacred duty of every Indian and the collective responsibility of the Indian society to bring back the erstwhile fertile and healthy land and undo the damage that has been caused due to man-made catastrophes, the Indian premier urged his countrymen, adding that India cannot achieve a better planet single-handedly. Showing the path towards a better world, the world needs to step up and forge ahead under India's able guidance. On a personal level, all responsible individuals must resolve to ensure that the planet is saved and remains healthy for many generations to come as well. — Agencies

Source: Saudi Gazette