By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 17 Jun: ‘Environmental Information System (ENIVS) Resource Partner’ and ‘Forest Ecology and Climate Change Division’ of Forest Research Institute celebrated World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – 2021, here, today.
On this occasion, a webinar cum online declamation contest for Indian College and University students was organised on the theme, “Eco-restoration and rehabilitation”. Dr Vijender Panwar, Coordinator, ENVIS-FRI, delivered the welcome address and organised the online event.
Arun Singh Rawat, Director General, Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE) and Director, FRI Dehradun, was the Chief Guest. He reminded that, globally, 23 percent of the land is no longer productive; 75 per cent has been transformed from its natural state, primarily for agriculture. This transformation in land use is happening at a faster rate than at any other time in human history and has accelerated over the last 50 years. He stated that many initiatives had been taken across the globe to address issues related to desertification and drought. As per the latest estimates, 96.40 mha (29.32% of total geographical area) area of the country is undergoing land degradation, out of which 82.64 mha falls under drylands. Land degradation is increasingly becoming a major concern in India, reflected in the commitment to achieve land degradation neutral status by 2030 as a signatory to the UNCCD.
In tandem with its sister institutes under ICFRE, Forest Research Institute Dehradun addresses this issue by developing suitable models of restoration for various degraded lands, e.g., coal mine overburden dumps, limestone mines, salt-affected soils, degraded hills, waterlogged areas, desert sand dunes etc. These research findings are also extended to end users through the ‘Direct to consumer’ scheme, besides hands-on training on the package of practices. Highlighting the problem of soil sodicity in arid and semiarid regions of Indo-Gangetic plains in India, he appreciated the contribution of FRI in reclaiming 2108 ha sodic soil into productive land with the green cover. He also emphasised that India has thousands of hectares of barren degraded lands due to surface mining and mine overburden dumps, posing serious threats to environmental stability. Accordingly, FRI prepared a ‘Road Map’ for plantation work in such areas and developed a package of practices for restoration of coal mine overburden dumps in Dhanbad (BCCL) and Singrauli (NCL) and trained 400 officials of Coal India Ltd. Suitable restoration models and their package of practices have been developed for degraded hills, waterlogged areas and desert sand dunes stabilization in western India.
Dr Anurag Saxena, ICAR – Principal Scientist, NDRI, Haryana, highlighted the causes and remediation of desertification. He said that wind erosion is a dominant process of desertification in hot deserts and has been addressed significantly over 0.4 million ha in Rajasthan with fencing, creating micro-wind breaks, dune slopes afforestation by direct seed sowing and transplanting, planting grass slips and leguminous creepers besides continuous management. Dr Raju EVR, former HoD (Environment), Coal India Ltd, talked about eco-restoration and rehabilitation of mined out areas and shared the 3-tier eco-restoration approach for spoil dumps and degraded mined out areas resulting in the successful restoration of 800 acres of degraded land to lush green mini forests with the rejuvenation of biodiversity and food chains.
N Bala, Head, Forest Ecology & Climate Change Division, FRI, updated participants on “restoration of degraded dune areas” and shared experiences on the restoration of degraded drylands, waterlogged area and sand dunes in the Indian desert and nationwide initiatives of ICFRE to combat desertification. Dr Vaneet Jishtu, Scientist from HFRI, Shimla, highlighted the need of “combating desertification in the cold deserts of the North-West Himalaya” and provided insight on the most vulnerable ecosystem, recognised as a distinct biogeographic zone characterised by a highly harsh climate but a unique assemblage of biodiversity. He warned about the challenging issues of desertification from the unsustainable use and overutilisation of native biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, and developmental pressures impacting climate change, focusing on tourism, all leading to land degradation and leading to desertification.
In an online declamation contest amongst Indian college/university students, Apoorva, Sunrise Academy of Management, bagged the first prize. Mansi Singal, M.Sc. Environment Management, Forest Research Institute deemed to be University, got the second prize, and Surbhi Sharma, M.Sc Forestry, Forest Research Institute, won the third prize.
N Bala, Dr Tara Chand, Dr Parmanand Kumar and Dr Abhishek Verma, Scientists from Forest Ecology and Climate Change Division, judged the online declamation competition.
By Our Staff Reporter