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Environment UNCCD – 01

UNCCD (United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification)

Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the dry lands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.

UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework – it is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)

In order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations.

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) has been defined by the Parties to the Convention as: A state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems. 

Functions – The Convention’s 197 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in dry lands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation. The UNCCD secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management.

As the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected, the UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to meet these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the best possible use of natural resources.

Way forward 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts a strong emphasis on the integrated approach to achieving SDGs that can harness synergies and minimize potential trade-offs. Land can play an important part in accelerating the achievement of many SDGs.  Maintaining and restoring land resources can play a vital role in tackling climate change, securing biodiversity and maintaining crucial ecosystem services, while ensuring shared prosperity and well-being. Healthy and productive land can play an unparalleled role as an engine of economic growth and a source of livelihood for billions worldwide, including the most vulnerable populations. Achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN) can become an accelerator of achieving SDGs across the board. Therefore the reclamation of land and its proper usage will be a cornerstone in achieving a lot of other sustainable development goals like achieving zero hunger, no poverty, climate change action, blue economy, water conservation etc. 

Hence land as a resource and its efficient management is vital for sustaining life on earth. 

Forest Resource

Forests are among the most diverse and widespread ecosystems on earth, and have many functions: they provide timber and other forest products; have cultural values; deliver recreation benefits and ecosystem services, including regulation of soil, air and water; are reservoirs for biodiversity; and act as carbon sinks. The impact from human activities on forest health and on natural forest growth and regeneration raises widespread concern. Many forest resources are threatened by overexploitation, fragmentation, degradation of environmental quality and conversion to other types of land use. The main pressures result from human activities, including agriculture expansion, transport infrastructure development, unsustainable forestry, air pollution and intentional burning of forests.

Scientists estimate that India should ideally have 33 % of its land under forests. Today we have only about 23 %. However we have committed to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 as part of our INDC of UNFCCC. Thus we need not only to protect existing forests but also to increase our forest cover. 

Deforestation became a major concern in British times when a large amount of timber was extracted for building their ships. This led the British to develop scientific forestry in India. They however alienated local people by creating Reserved and Protected Forests which curtailed access to the resources. This led to a loss of stake in the conservation of the forests which led to a gradual degradation and fragmentation of forests across the length and breadth of the country. Another period of overutilization and forest degradation occurred in the early period following independence as people felt that now that the British had gone they had a right to using our forests in any way we pleased.

Significance of forest and its functions 

Forest can provide prosperity of human being and to the nations. Important uses of forest can be classified as under

  • Commercial values
  • Ecological significance
  • Aesthetic values
  • Life and economy of tribal
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