Land Degradation and Desertification Newsletter of the International Task Force On Land Degradation
February 1997, No. 1
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS 2
REPORT OF THE 1ST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 4
TASK FORCE ON LAND DEGRADATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SOIL SCIENCE 5
NEW INITIATIVES 6
WORLD BANK PLANS, NEW INITIATIVE ON "GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS FROM LAND DEGRADATION CONTROL" 6
NATIONAL AND REGIONAL REPORTS 7
LAND DEGRADATION DUE TO SALINIZATION OF INTENSIVELY IRRIGATED REGIONS 7
MONITORING CONTAMINATION OF SOILS IN SLOVAKIA 8
FACTS ABOUT LAND DEGRADATION IN TURKEY 9
SOIL EROSION ESTIMATES FOR SOME WATERSHEDS IN IRAN 9
THE ROLE OF NGOS IN COMBATTING DESERTIFICATION 10
GLOBAL EFFORTS TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION / LAND DEGRADATION 11
INFLUENCE OF LAND DEGRADATION ON THE DOMESTIC MARKET-GARDENING, NUTRITION AND WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S HEALTH IN THE ARAL SEA REGION, KAZAKHSTAN 12
ADVERSE EFFECT OF UNCONTROLLED DEVELOPMENT OF THE URBAN AREAS ON THE AGRICULTURAL LAND IN TURKEY, A CASE STUDY AT THE MERSIN PROVINCE 13
GLOBAL WETLANDS: A FRAGILE ECOSYSTEM VULNERABLE TO DEGRADATION 13
BOOK REVIEWS 15
World in Transition: The threat to Soils. 1994 Annual Report of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. Publ. Economica Verlag, Bonn, Germany. 225pp. 15
Current Conditions of Ecosystem of Mongolia. I. Szabolcs. Map at scale of 1:1,000,000. Russian-Mongolian Complex Biological Expedition. 16
Land Degradation in South Asia: Its Severity, Causes and Effects upon the people. World Soil Resources Report 78. UNDP, UNEP, and FAO. 1994. 16
Salinisation of Land and Water Resources. Human causes, extent, management, and case studies. F. Ghassemi, A.J. Jakeman and H.A. Nix. CAB International, Wallingford. 1995. 16
SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LAND DEGRADATION: MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF LAND DEGRADATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY 17
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
This is the inaugural letter of the International Task Force on Land
Degradation under the auspices of the International Society of Soil Science. The
importance of land degradation to the quality of the environment and food
security in general has been recognized by earth scientists. With the United
Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
and with the release of AGENDA 21, it has taken a special significance. This has
resulted in political recognition of the process as being a potentially
devastating one and for which a concerted effort was necessary. However, the
United Nations preferred to address one form of degradation only --
desertification. The Convention to Combat Desertification is urged to enlarge
their portfolio to include land degradation as a whole as it will be an unique
opportunity to address this.
With the recognition of land degradation as an important problem, the First
Conference was organized in Adana. Turkey was the ideal venue for the
conference, due to the historical significance of the country, with respect to
the rise and fall of civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean and particularly
the Mesopotamia. About 8.000 to 10.000 BP, the Neolithic civilization on the
lower Mesopotamian Plain changed from nomadic to settled farming systems. The
Sumerians were perhaps the first to establish settlements and an agriculture
with irrigation systems. They were known as the first men of dykes and
irrigation canals, who also introduced cereals from the wild species grown in
upper Mesopotamia. Sumerians lost power around 5000 BP to Semitic speaking
Akkadians. With time, the center of power shifted slowly northwards to Babylonia
and eventually the Assyrians in the upper Mesopotamia. The Assyrians lived in
Southeast Anatolia, Northern Syria, and Iraq. They developed a sophisticated
form of agriculture which served the people of the time but which in the process
was one of the major causes of decline in soil quality. Gradual shift of power
together with population northwards, has been linked to the declining
productivity resulting from land degradation. Excessive salinity through
irrigation, loss of soil quality and fertility, and wind and water erosion are
among the important factors that caused soil degradation and consequently the
downfall of civilization in Mesopotamia.
Land Degradation is a universal problem and not necessarily one for the developing countries. It is not merely an agricultural problem but has ramifications in all aspects of society. Land degradation either natural or induced by humans is a continuing process. It has become, however, an important concern affecting the wealth of nations, food security, and is impacting the livelihood of every person on earth. Food security is directly related to the ability of the land to support the population. Due to declining quality of the land, urban migration is on the rise in almost every country in the world. Biodiversity is directly impacted as landless farmers move to steep lands or swamps to eke out a living.
There are a number of questions concerning land degradation that need to be addressed and include:
Soil scientists have made tremendous contributions to the task of soil
resource assessment but have shown little or no interest to monitor the resource
base and the quantification of land degradation. These are new areas of
investigation which require guidelines, standards and procedure. The challenge
to adopt internationally acceptable procedures for the quantification of land
degradation is an important one. Soil scientists are obliged to provide
reasonable estimates for rates of land degradation. They should develop early
warning indicators of land degradation, to enable them to collaborate with
others such as social scientists, to develop and implement mitigating
technologies. They have a role in assisting national decision makers to develop
appropriate land use policies.
The challenges we face today are to:
1. Mobilize the scientific community to mount an integrated program for methods, standards, data collection and research networks for assessment and monitoring of soil and land degradation,
2. Develop land use models that incorporate both natural and human-induced factors that contribute to land degradation and that could be used for land use planning and management. Develop information systems that link environmental monitoring, accounting and impact assessment to land degradation,
3. Help develop policies that encourage sustainable land use and management and assist in the greater use of land resource information for sustainable agriculture,
4. Develop economic instruments in the assessment of land degradation to encourage the suitable use of land resources.
We can perhaps think in terms of a new agenda in our research and development programs. Components that need to be in the new agenda may be several, four of which are mentioned here:
1. Assessment, quantification and monitoring: The increasing demand for real-time information will require resource assessment to adapt. Monitoring of the quality of soil resources will also be subject to the same demands. It is envisaged that the future will require greater attention to the changes of soil properties in addition to kinds of soils. Periodic assessments provide the basic information for national planning, developing mitigation technologies if large scale detrimental changes are taking place. Suitable indicators are required to develop such indicators for soil resources.
2. Land quality and early warning indicators of land degradation: The FAO/UNESCO/UNEP/World Resources Institute all provides data on global assessment of soil degradation, but this data is very subjective to quantify the soil degradation problem.
3. Land productivity and land use options; Sustainable land management is the key to harmonize the environmental and ecological concerns of society faced with the economic realities of producing adequate food and fiber and ensuring a basic minimal quality of life.
4. Decision support systems: Decision makers, in particularly
environmentally-sensitive countries with limited natural resources, are expected
to make technical decision that are ecologically, economically, and socially
acceptable. AGENDA 21 of the Rio Conference in 1992 emphasized this.
The purpose of this ISSS Newsletter is to keep earth scientists abreast of
developments in the science of land degradation. Your assistance is needed to
make this network alive and productive. We hope to produce two Newsletters a
year and we need your help. Please send us contributions in the form of short
technical communications, book reviews, information on events, and specifically
REPORT OF THE 1ST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ADANA, TURKEY, JUNE 10-14, 1996
Land degradation has been addressed in many international meetings dealing
with natural resources and ecosystems but the Conference at Adana was perhaps
the first time that a meeting was devoted to the subject. The purpose of the
Conference was to:
1. provide a forum for those interested in land degradation to meet and exchange ideas on the subject;
2. arrive at an initial assessment of the state of information and knowledge on the processes, rates, and factors controlling land degradation;
3. evaluate mitigating technologies to control land degradation;
4. evaluate the need for international collaboration in the task of global
assessment and monitoring;
The conference started with a welcome address by A. R. Mermut (Canada),
Chairman of the Scientific Committee. The speakers of the plenary session were
H. Eswaran (USA), W. E. H. Blum (Secretary of the International Society of Soil
Science, Austria), W. H. Verheye (Belgium), M. Inbar (Israel), and O. Tekinel
(Turkey). They provided excellent examples about land degradation and the
challenges that mankind faces today. The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil
Erosion for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats ended the day
with a cinevision show exhibiting the indicators of land degradation with
special reference to soil erosion and degradation of the natural habitat in
Participants, over 200 from 30 countries in addition to Turkey, presented 76
oral and 86 poster papers. The largest foreign group was from Bulgaria, the
Pushkarov Institute of Soil Science. The conference took place at the University
of Çukurova, located along the beautiful Seyhan lake.
Topics discussed in the conference were:
The assessment & monitoring of soil and land degradation,
Mitigation technologies & policies for reducing land degradation,
Environmental accounting of soil use and land degradation,
History & socio-economics of land degradation,
Impact of land degradation on global climate change,
Indicators of land degradation,
Application of GIS & remote sensing technology to evaluate soil care
and land degradation.
The discussion session on Friday June 14, was focused on how to deal with land degradation considering chapter 10 of AGENDA 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
A mid-week excursion was organized to show the delegates the typical examples of the most productive soils which are lost permanently to expanding urbanization. Traditional Turkish food and spirits were enjoyed by all the participants. Weekend excursions to Cappadocia together with the Karapýnar, the blooming desert region (previous sand dune area), was worthwhile observing geotectonic beauties, as well as combatting desertification.
Delegates of the Conference decided to form a task force. The Soil Science Department of the Univeristy of Çukurova, Adana, has agreed to provide an interim Secretariat. An Interim Committee to coordinate the work of the Task Force was formed.
The delegates decided to have the next meeting in Thailand, upon the request of the Thai delegates. Dr. S. A. Tahoun (Egypt) extended his sincere wish to host the third Land Degradation Conference in the year 2000 in Cairo, Egypt and this was accepted by the delegates.
The abstracts of the conference were published by the local editorial board. Reviewed and accepted papers are to be published in a special issue of an International Journal. A few excerpts of the Abstracts are included in this Newsletter.
FORCE ON LAND DEGRADATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
SOCIETY OF SOIL SCIENCE
AGENDA 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
emphasizes the need and proposes a wide range of activities to address land
degradation in general and desertification in particular. As a response to this
challenge, more than 100 countries have signed the Convention to Combat
Desertification (CCD) in 1997. A key point of the CCD deals with scientific and
technical cooperation on investigation, collection, evaluation of the processes
and factors involved in land degradation leading to desertification. At the
conclusion of the Conference on Land Degradation at Adana, an International Task
Force on Land Degradation, to be formed under the auspices of the International
Society of Soil Science (ISSS), was proposed and unanimously adopted.
The Soil Science Department of the University of Çukurova, Adana, has
agreed to provide an interim Secretariat. An interim Committee to coordinate the
work of the Task Force was formed with the following members:
Dr. Selim Kapur, Secretary
Dr. Ahmet R. Mermut
Dr. Chaiyasit Anecksamphant
Charges to the Task Force
1. Develop a science-based procedure for the identification and documentation of land degradation;
2. Develop manuals and/or guidelines for standardizing approaches, methods of assessment and monitoring, and interpretation of data;
3. Initiate efforts to develop appropriate Decision Support Systems to evaluate degree and extent of land degradation, assess potential impacts of land management practices, and research leading to mitigating technologies;
4. Initiate efforts to develop global, regional, and national databases and GIS maps depicting land degradation: and
5. Catalyze efforts to enhance the science of land degradation and the
utilization of resource information for the assessment, monitoring, and
prediction of land degradation at regional and local levels.
Desired products/outputs of Task Force
1. Basic concepts and definitions of land degradation; methods, threshold values etc.;
2. Scientific concept papers - approaches to problem solving; reliability and accurancy of assessments; aspects of time and space dimensions;
3. Internationally accepted language for describing processes, states, and tension zones; standards for databases and database management systems; minimum datasets;
4. Manual on assessment and monitoring of land degradation;
5. Decision Support Systems for evaluation, estimation, and impact of land degradation; and
6. Global, regional, and national maps depicting kinds of stresses, tension
zones, potential for degradation etc.
Address of Secretary Address of Chairman
Dr. Selim KAPUR Dr. Hari ESWARAN
Faculty of Agriculture Director,International Conservation Division
Çukurova University USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Department of Soil Science P. O. Box 2890
01330 Adana, TURKEY Washington DC 20013, USA
Fax: ++ 90 322 338 66 43 Fax: ++ 1 202 720 4593
BANK PLANS NEW INITIATIVE ON "GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS FROM LAND
A meeting was held at World Bank in Washington DC on December 17th, 1996, to
initiate a study to demonstrate the linkages between land degradation and global
environmental concerns and provide World Bank staff and clients with tools
needed to integrate global environmental concerns into land degradation control
activities. During the last five years the Bank has financed about 108 land
degradation related projects for a total of $13.4 billion. The Bank is also
leading efforts to develop Land Quality Indicators which will enable land
degradation problems to be identified and measured and the efficiency of
remedial actions to be monitored. In the African continent, where land
degradation problems are most severe, a Soil Fertility Recapitilization
Initiative is being considered.
In the planned study, measures to address the global dimensions of land
degradation and how to integrate them with measures designed to address
farm-level and national-level problems will be considered. An important question
asked is: How and at what cost would policies, institutions, and investment
priorities change if global environmental objectives were added to conventional
sectoral objectives? This stems from the fact that there is little experience in
the preparation of land degradation control projects that blend global
environmental concerns with national sustainable development objectives.
It is expected that the proposed theme paper will have three components:
1. a conceptual framework for analyzing the linkages between land degradation and global problems;
2. guidelines for the incorporation of global dimensions in land degradation control projects, including guidelines for the application of incremental cost principles to determine eligibility for GEF funding;
3. concrete examples of how global dimensions can be incorporated into land
resource management and land degradation control projects of the Bank.
Three fundamental questions were posed at this meeting and readers are
invited to send their opinion, with supporting data if possible, to Dr. Hari
Eswaran (USDA-NRCS, Fax: 1-202-720 4593):
1. Is land degradation a driver of global climate change?
2. What is the role of land degradation on carbon sequestration in soils?
3. What is the impact of land degradation on crop productivity?
For more information on the proposed activity contact: Dr. Lars Vidaeus,
Chief, Global Environmental Group, The World Bank, Washington DC 20433, USA
(Fax: 1-202-522 3256)
NATIONAL AND REGIONAL REPORTS
DEGRADATION DUE TO SALINIZATION OF INTENSIVELY IRRIGATED REGIONS
Department of Soil and Water Sciences and the Seagram Center for Soil
and Water Sciences, The Hebrew University, Rehovot, Israel
Land degradation due to secondary salinization of intensively irrigated land is an increasingly alarming process experienced in many irrigated regions. The major cause is a profound interference in geochemical/salt balances of irrigated regions.
Irrigation of arid and arid semi-arid lands has developed at a steep rate
since the 1950's, more than doubling in area since then. Quite generally, high
hopes for increased agricultural production in these irrigated arid-zones are
materialised only during a relatively short (2-4 decades) period of time. A
series of decline processes are set in the irrigated land immediately upon the
initiation of large-scale irrigation causing, on regional scales, slow but
steady yield declines. One of the major and most grave decline processes is the
development of secondary salinization, frequently followed by sodification, of
soils. This form of land degradation grossly affects the semi-arid and
A case study of regional salinization in the Yizre'el Valley, Israel, a 20.000 ha intensively irrigated region in Israel, has shown that as water use in the Valley increased over the years since 1945 to ca. 70.106 m3 per year, importation of soluble salts by water totaled some 15.000 tons as Cl per year. Recirculated salt, i.e., salt picked up by impounded surface water and applied to fields, increased significantly and amounted in the later 1980's to more than 9.000 tons Cl per year. The source of recirculated salts was the accumulated salts in soils and in the shallow aquifer in the Valley which were leached by flood water and/or drained, or infiltrated into reservoirs, grossly and adversely affecting soil and water quality.
Analysis of a number of cases of regional salinization events, points to the utmost importance of maintaining the geochemical balances in addition to increasing irrigation efficiency. Means of achieving geochemical balance in an irrigated region may include limiting the extent of irrigated areas, developing a well-maintained drainage system which drains tail-water and salinized shallow-aquifer water, and devoting a significant portion of water for "regional leaching". The sustained long-term productivity of irrigated lands in arid-zones crucially depends on correctly managing water and soil resources. Regional management of irrigated lands to prevent secondary salinization shall be aimed at carefully balancing the undisputed benefits of irrigation with the long term (on time-scales of 10 to 100 years) detrimental processes that are set in motion at the very moment of introduction of irrigation to arid and semi-arid zone soils.
MONITORING CONTAMINATION OF SOILS IN SLOVAKIA
Soil Fertility Research Institute Bratislava, Research Station Bansk Bystrica, Slovakia
Slovakia in the twentieth century has been characterized by frequent and extensive changes unfavourably impacting all aspects of the environment. Long-term continuing wasteful exploitation of natural resources, extensive pollution of the air, water, soil and land, release of contaminants by the influence of human activity (especially industry, agriculture, etc.) is for the quality of the main components of the environment.
The problem of the soil monitoring system in Slovakia has been developed at the Soil Fertility Research Institute in Bratislava since 1992 (agricultural and forest soils together). Important soil properties are monitored as well as chemical, agrochemical and physical properties. The soil monitoring network in Slovakia includes 637 monitoring sites (299 in agricultural soils and 338 in forest soils). Soil sampling is done at standard depths such as, 0,00-0,10 m, 0,20-0,30 m and 0,35-0,45 m, but soil samples from various horizons must not be mixed. The monitoring cycle is 5 years, more dynamic properties have been monitored yearly.
Important soil properties connected to soil contamination, soil acidification, soil erosion and soil oppressing, etc. are monitorized as well, as an important factor in inorganic and organic contamination. Trace elements such as Pb, Cd, Cr, Cu, Zn, Ni, As, Hg, Se, Co (total content) and Pb, Cd, Cr, Cu, Zn, Ni (extracted by 2M HNO3) were analysed as well as the PAH content from organic contaminants.
Finally, it can be said that on the basis of the results obtained the soils of Slovakia -except "hot spot" regions and geochemical anomalies- are not expressively contaminated.
FACTS ABOUT LAND DEGRADATION IN TURKEY
C. Cangira, S. Kapurb, D. Boyraza and E. Akçab
aThrace University, Department of Soil Science, Tekirdað, Turkey
bÇukurova University, Department of Soil Science, Adana, Turkey
The soils with high production capacity cover 6.5% (5 million ha) of the total land area (77.9 million ha) in Turkey. This proportion is equal to about 1/5 of the potential agricultural soils of the country. The highly and moderately productive soils of Turkey comprise an area of 19.1 million ha. This is almost equal to one quarter (24.5%) of the country's land. However, there are 7.4 million ha land which are marginally productive, but currently used for crop production. Pasture land, forests and settlement areas cover about 4.8 million ha. About 577.293 ha of land is occupied by various industries and urban settlements, most of which are of prime quality. Un fortunately, a detailed national policy for the proper use of land in Turkey has still not being achieved, in spite of the numerous studies and tedious efforts previously devoted, by the Universities and governmental research Institutes, to the development of legislative measures to combat land degradation, which are especially related to uncontrolled industrialization, urbanization and erosion since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
Thus, based on previous works national land use and conservation policies need to be developed, considering the suitable and sustainable management practices and capabilities of soils, and legislative, together with socio-economic factors. Detailed soil, land use and soil quality maps need to be prepared along with appropriate modeling of major crops i.e. wheat and cotton linked to fertilization (especially phosphorous), irrigation and use of insecticides and pesticides. Research work is already under progress in southeastern Turkey for obtaining models for sustainable P fertilizer management and determination of the appropriate irrigation method for cotton. Detailed breeding experimentation of cotton in southern Turkey is also undertaken in the international center of cotton research based in the Çukurova University, Adana. Sites representing the historical heritage along with the riches of biodiversity should also be considered within this context. Thus, special areas, apart from the ones which are already lost to unplanned tourism and urbanisation, in the central and southern coastal parts (especially the Mersin province) of the country, should be detached as national parks associated with a multidisciplinary approach which will amalgamate elements of history, landscape architecture and soil/earth sciences. Sample sites such as the Karatepe, Cappadocia and Karapýnar national parks in Osmaniye, Nevþehir and Konya respectively, disclose the coexistence of archaeological beauty with complementing components of nature (geomaterials and endemic plant species).
In this regard universities and research institutions have an important role to play. One of the main agendas for land use policies in developing countries should be to establish international institutions whose prime objectives would be to tackle with land degradation in all aspects. International funds should be made available to materialize this in especially Mediterranean and/or arid regions.
SOIL EROSION ESTIMATES FOR SOME WATERSHEDS IN IRAN
A. Jalalian, A.M. Ghahsareh and H.R. Karimzadeh
Isfahan University of Technology, College of Agriculture, Isfahan, Iran
There is no accurate estimate of soil erosion in different parts of Iran. In this study, twenty years records from 120 gauging stations were examined to evaluate soil erosion and sediment yield in some watersheds in Iran. From 37 subbasins in Iran, data from 24 of them were used for this study which covered more than 37 million hectares. The MPSIAC method, which uses nine factors including surface geology, soils, climate, runoff, topography, ground cover, land use, upland erosion and channel erosion was employed to estimate erosion and sediment yields for watersheds without gauging stations. The results show that watersheds under study have an average annual sediment yield of 750 tons/km2 and an erosion yield of 2500 tons/km2. The Karkheh, Sefid-rood, maroon, Hirmand and Zohreh watersheds had the highest annual sediment yields with 1409, 967, 779, 722, and 704 tons/km2 respectively. It is estimated that the average annual erosion rate in watersheds of Iran is 20 to 30 times of the acceptable level. Intense erosion and sedimentation has been primarily caused by: 1) over grazing (estimated 76 million sheep currently being grazed on a land area with sustainable carrying capacity of only 26 million), 2) dry farming on steep slopes and deforestation. Available information indicates that 59 % from 17 watersheds of major dams in Iran (about 8.8 million hectares) are badly degraded. Further detailed studies are recommended for soil erosion estimation in different regions of Iran.
THE ROLE OF NGOS IN COMBATTING DESERTIFICATION
The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats, Istanbul, Turkey
Although soil erosion and desertification are very old global problems compared to other global environmental problems which have arisen over the last few decades, they are probably the most serious but the least noticeable ones. While over exploitation of the natural resources, loss and degradation of habitats, pollution are placed at top of the environmental agenda, erosion and desertification are overlooked; the main reason for that, the soil is not considered as a limited resource such as petrol, air, potable water, and exploited in a non-sustainable way.
Combating desertification is a complex process which cannot be performed by sectoral efforts, but can only be performed through an collective approach of governments, academic institutions, private sector and people. Within this picture, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are crucial actors which can form and represent the public opinion, and can be moderators between all the institutions involved.
The role of NGOs in combating desertification is vital:
Lobbying: many governmental and academic institutions have inventories on soil, hydrologic and geologic structure, land use and other components. It is vital to use these information for combating desertification, therefore a national land use inventory should be made by the governments. As a result of this inventory, a national policy for combating desertification should be designed and corresponding legislative infrastructure should be made consulting all the parties. NGOs have major roles in this process by enforcing the governmental institutes to initiate the necessary actions. Similarly, NGOs have roles in enforcing governments to design national land use and combating desertification policies. In order to achieve this, close financial correlation between economic development and desertification should be analyzed thoroughly by the governments. All these actions can be achieved by means of successful lobbying activities by NGOs on governmental and parliament level. Furthermore, NGOs should take party in the national policy making process.
Forming public opinion: results of desertification can be drastic for the whole society. To combat desertification, can be successful by public action on every level. Motivation of public power can be done through extensive public-awareness and education programs. NGOs have a major role in this process too by displaying the development-conservation relationships.
Networking: NGOs have a flexible structure to achieve all these targets. They can contact directly governments, scientific institutions, private sector, foreign organizations; can represent the public opinion and influence the decision makers. It is usually easy for NGOs to find technical and financial resources, to collaborate national and foreign organizations, therefore to form a strong network. These features give an important power and major responsibility to NGOs in combating desertification. To tackle this challenge, can be achieved strong organizational structure and institutionalization.
GLOBAL EFFORTS TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION / LAND DEGRADATION
University of El-Zagazig, Egypt
The natural resources of the ecosystem, including lands, have become under increasing pressure in the past few decades as they are being utilised at levels which may be higher than their inherent carrying capacity. Moreover, many lands are being misused and/or polluted. Therefore, extensive land areas in many countries are subjected to degradation, and the life-support system of an increasing world population is threatened. This case is particularly accentuated in the arid and subarid regions of the world, where land degradation is equated with desertification.
The first coordinated international effort to reverse this trend can be traced back to the Stockholm UN Conference on the Human Environment, which was held in 1972. In this conference, 113 nations reached several recommendations to "safeguard and enhance the environment for present and future generations of man". The conference created the UN Environment Program (UNEP) which was established in Nairobi, Kenya in 1973. UNEP sponsored a conference on desertification (UNCOD) in Nairobi in 1977 where several studies on the feasibility of regional cooperation were outlined, and a world plan of action to combat desertification (PACD) was adopted. The available information at the time showed that productive land is lost at the rate of 600.000 hectares/year, and that productive land area prone to desertification is about 300 million hectares extending over 100 countries. The cost of productivity lost every year is US$ 25 billion and the needed resources to avert this loss is US$ 2.4 billion per year for 20 years.
Unfortunately, the PACD is not a binding document, and as such, it did not stand a fair chance to be implemented. Financial resources allotted to desertification control activities within the international aid schemes were limited. On the other hand, national governments in many desertification-prone countries did not include desertification control programs within their development plans. The UNEP assessment for the 1984/1992 period showed that desertification was still spreading, and that the world effort to combat it was short of being effective. It was estimated that income forgone due to desertification is US$ 42.3 billion/year.
The problem was discussed in the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The conference produced an action oriented document known as Agenda 21 is devoted to the management of fragile ecosystems and combating desertification. Subsequently, the UN General assembly resolved in the same year to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Elaboration of an International Convention to Combat Desertification (INCD).
The committee held meetings in five sessions till an acceptable convention was reached by consensus in Paris in June 1994. The convention comprises a framework of general principles and an operative instrument which includes four different annexes for Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Northern Mediterranean Countries. If taken in good faith, the convention offers new hope in the struggle against desertification. It would be implemented through action programs at the national level complemented by subregional and regional programs. International aid processes would be dramatically reshaped to work through what is defined as the Global Mechanism (GM). It would ensure that funding programs are better coordinated, that funding is based on the needs of affected countries, that donors can be sure that their funds are well-spent, and that recipients obtain the maximum benefit from the available funds. The convention places strong emphasis on the "bottom-up" approach and local participation in decision making. For this innovative and complicated process to work, awareness campaigns are needed to inform people at all levels about the new opportunities of the convention.
A committee for science and technology would be established to consider key research areas including climatology and meteorology, soil science, hydrology, botany, zoology, ecology, and social sciences. New technology and know-how would be developed, transferred to affected countries, and adapted to local circumstances. Modern communications, satellite imagery, and genetic engineering are some examples of modern tools that would be utilized to combat desertification.
The supreme body of the convention is the Conference of the parties (COP), which will include the representatives of all ratifying governments. The COP may meet for the first time 90 days after 50 countries have ratified the convention. According to the current ratification rate, it is expected that the first COP meeting would take place around mid 1997. It may be worthwhile to remember that the convention with its commitments and obligations is a legally binding document, and as such, it stands a fair chance to be implemented. Therefore, it is reasonable to wait for a day in the foreseeable future, where desertification/land degradation in the arid and subarid regions of the world would be eventually checked.
INFLUENCE OF LAND DEGRADATION ON THE DOMESTIC MARKET-GARDENING, NUTRITION AND WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S HEALTH IN THE ARAL SEA REGION, KAZAKHSTAN
Institute of Gegraphy, National Academy of Sciences, Kazakhstan
A crucial ecological situation was formed in the Aral Sea region prompting a necessity of establishment of quantitative connections between the environment and population's health. The long and uncontrolled use of the Sirdariya and Amudariya river waters for irrigation, reduced river flows into the Aral Sea leading to the exposure of a 30,000 square kilometer saline sea floor. Annually, 75 million tons of salt dashed out by wind erosion from this surface polluting the environment for hundreds of kilometers.
Absence of rational collecting-drainage systems has led to the rise of highly mineralized ground waters. The soils are now practically unsuitable for agricultural use because of excessive enrichment by windblown and ground-water salts. A collaborative investigation was conducted by the University of London (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Kazakh Institute of Geography, National Academy of Sciences in the Aral Sea region in Kasakhstan to assess the prevalence of anemia among women and children and to identify related factors.
Nearly 62 % of the household had access to a plot of land where a variety of vegetables and fruit were grown. Analyses of questionnaires showed that meat, vegetable and fruit consumptions decreased in most of the clusters. The prevalence of anemia among women and children was high: 45,9 % and 64,3 % respectively. Obesity was found among 5,7 % of the women and 11.8% were moderately or severely malnourished. Virtually no wasting was found among the children, but 14,1% were stunted. The prevalence of stunting increased with age.
ADVERSE EFFECT OF UNCONTROLLED DEVELOPMENT OF THE URBAN AREAS ON THE AGRICULTURAL LAND IN TURKEY, A CASE STUDY AT THE MERSIN PROVINCE
U. Dinç, S. Þenol, N.Öztürk, H.Özbek, M. Dingil and M.E. Öztekin
Çukurova University, Department of Soil Science, Adana,Turkey
In the last decades, increased pressure on agricultural lands from industry, urban and other uses, especially the surrounding large cities, created irreversible losses of natural resources such as highly productive soils. Because of the high rate of population increase and land degradation as a result of soil erosion, improper uses and land ownership laws, most of the people living in the rural areas of Turkey, have moved to large cities. The Mersin Province is a good example for this consequence.
For this purpose, the topographic map published in 1963, aerial photos taken in 1975 and Landsat TM digital data acquired in 1993 were used to trace land use changes during last 30 years. All three were overlaid by using GIS techniques. The Mersin province continuously spread out to the surrounding agricultural land in an increasing rate from 1963 to the present. Most of the orchards, mainly citrus, have been lost, and now they are occupied by buildings and factories. The city area increased approximately 4.3 times from 1963 to 1975, 3.6 times from 1975 to 1993 and 15.7 times from 1963 to 1993.
GLOBAL WETLANDS: A FRAGILE ECOSYSTEM VULNERABLE TO DEGRADATION
H. Eswaran and P. Reich
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, World Soil Resources, Washington. DC, USA
Wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate in many countries of the world and as a result wetland conservation has become a global challenge. Some of the issues include:
As a first step towards the better understanding of the global magnitude and importance of wetlands, a global map was prepared as a step in the inventory. A tentative division of the kinds of wetlands was made in the absence of an accepted classification. The following table provides the area of the different kinds of wetlands.
This assessment will have uses for:
global assessment of sources and sinks of green house gases as wetlands are one of the more active geochemical systems; impact of global warming on wetland conditions, particularly in higher latitudes where warming will release high amounts of carbon; impacts on biodiversity due to the trans-national role of wetlands as biological habitats; impacts on landscapes if wetland systems are perturbed.
World in Transition: The threat to Soils. 1994 Annual Report of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. Publ. Economica Verlag, Bonn, Germany. 225pp.
This report has probably not received the wide circulation it deserves and anybody interested in soil degradation will benefit significantly from the ideas and approaches in the monograph. The main section of this report deals with the global threat to soils. The importance of soils for the ecosphere and the anthrosphere is demonstrated using soil-related environmental trends and their interactions. The Report considers that soil degradation as an important component of Global Change was not adequately dealt with in AGENDA 21. They emphasize the fact that the consequences of land resource use especially as a result of population growth, will clearly precede the terrestrial effects of climate change over the next few decades.
The Report looks at soil degradation as the result of excess loads on the respective ecosystem. An evaluation allowing the quantification of anthropogenic changes and their assessments with respect to the conservation of natural resource functions and the sustainable use of land, must therefore take as its starting point the measurement of these excess loads. They stress that an important task for research in the future will be to determine the stress-bearing capacity of soils for different types of environmental issues.
An innovate part of the Report deals with the main syndromes of soil degradation. The Report defines what it considers to be the twelve most important anthropogenic "soil diseases". Symbolic names are given to each syndrome as listed below:
The Report concludes that, in view of seriousness of the problems, a new efficient institutional framework should now be established and that global soil protection should receive similar attention on the international agenda as has been achieved for climate change.
Current Conditions of Ecosystem of Mongolia. I. Szabolcs. Map at scale of 1:1,000,000. Russian-Mongolian Complex Biological Expedition.
The map and report reflects the ecological situation in Mongolia indicating anthropogenic processes and soil degradation. More than 300 types of ecosystems are recognized. The report provides data on the degree of anthropic pressure on the environment and becomes a useful basis for future investigations and monitoring.
Land Degradation in South Asia: Its Severity, Causes and Effects upon the people. World Soil Resources Report 78. UNDP, UNEP, and FAO. 1994.
The report gives an overview of land degradation in South Asian countries and examines its degree, causes, and effects on land productivity. It also provides a review of programs and institutions in place to combat land degradation and makes proposals to strengthen them.
Stalinization of Land and Water Resources. Human causes, extent, management, and case studies. F. Ghassemi, A.J. Jakeman and H.A. Nix. CAB International, Wallingford. 1995.
The book evaluates the extent, human causes and management of Stalinization. Procedures used in different countries are provided. An interesting feature of the book is the case studies that attempt to determine the causes of salinity in individual countries.
SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LAND DEGRADATION: MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF LAND DEGRADATION
KHON KAEN, THAILAND JANUARY 22-31, 1999
Land degradation, either natural or induced by humans, is an important concern affecting the wealth of nations, food security, and the quality of life. AGENDA 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED 1992) emphasized the need for and proposes a wide range of activities to address land degradation in general and desertification in particular. Although much has been said and written about land degradation, there is still much conjecture on the subject as few countries have developed the techniques to measure degradation and subsequently develop spatial or other databases which enable the quantification of the process. Some of the immediate needs include:
The First International Conference organized in Adana, Turkey (June 10-14, 1996), expressed the need to evaluate the science of land degradation. This was in response to the very high amounts of donor funds allocated to address land degradation without adequate information of the kinds, degree, and extent of the degradation problem prevailing in the country. In some instances, as the causes of degradation are not well appreciated, corrective measures through such bi-lateral projects have minimal impact. Land Degradation science is the domain of soil scientists. However, the processes are human induced and consequently social sciences and the understanding of socioeconomic factors causing the degradation is an important factor in developing mitigating technologies. There are also examples of situations where poor national land use policies have accelerated erosion and decline in quality of the soil. Land degradation science is thus an excellent example of the need to integrate, not only the sub-disciplines of soil science but also other disciplines including the policy arena. The 2nd International Conference is organized to address some or all of these issues.
The purpose of the conference stems from the fact that:
The conference will be organized around technical presentations, poster sessions, and working group discussions on the following topics:
Tools for identification, assessment, and monitoring
Land cover and land use
Land management and land use policies
Food security, biodiversity, and environmental impacts
Effects of global climate change
Research and development issues
To obtain subsequent circular letters and further information on the conference, contact
Mr. Charoen Charoenchamratcheep
Department of Land Development
Phaholyothin Road, Chatuchak
Bangkok, 10900, THAILAND
Fax: + 662-579 2902
This newsletter was made possible through the financial and logistical support of the following institutions. The Task Force wishes to express our appreciation and gratitude.
1. The British Council Office, Ankara (First secretary: Dr. Julian EDWARDS)
2. Turkish Society of Soil Science (President: Prof. Nuri MUNSUZ)
3. Adana Office of the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (President: Dr. Kadir ÇETINKOL)
4. Faculty of Agriculture, Çukurova University
(Dean: Prof. Cevat KIRDA)
Dr. Hari ESWARAN
Dr. Selim KAPUR
For information and contributions to the newsletter, contact managing editor:
Mr. Erhan AKÇA
Department of Soil Science
University of Çukurova
01330 Balcali, Adana, TURKEY
Fax: + 90 322 338 66 43
Printed in the University of Çukurova, Faculty of Agriculture Press.