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17th of June 2020- World day to combat Desertification & Drought.

Every year on the 17th of June the United Nations celebrates the WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION & DROUGHT. This year’s observance is focused on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation.

As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is a far greater demand for land especially to provide food, animal feed and fiber for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, which has worsened by climate change. Food, Feed and Fiber which is the theme of the United Nations for 2020 must also compete with expanding cities and the fuel industry. The end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unsustainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change.

Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice stated that : “More than 4 million square kilometers of land in the world are becoming uncultivated every year. Preservation by the people and communities is the only way to prevent the conversion of cultivable land into barren land. Adding industrial chemicals that are unsuitable for the soil can cause soil to become degraded. Also, using the machinery will wash away the soil. If this is not controlled, the situation will increase annually”.  

It has been estimated that nearly one third of the land in Sri Lanka is subjected to soil erosion, the erodible proportion ranging from less than 10.0% in some districts to over 50.0% in others. It has also been estimated that at least 30.0% tea lands in Sri Lanka can be considered as marginal or uneconomic. A study conducted by Resources Management Centre in the Central Province of Sri Lanka has shown that 63% of the land degradation is primarily caused by soil erosion, whilst biological degradation and fertility loss accounted for 20% and 17% respectively.

“The Government of Sri Lanka must come up with clear policies for this and every Sri Lankan citizen should take immediate steps to protect the soil and stop the destructive land use pattern. ” Withanage added.

With the urbanization, many have moved away from the bonds of nature and moved towards a digitalized world. Food, Feed & Fiber are essential to our daily life, many of which start at the very lowest level. However, in this digital world, all of the above can be easily purchased from stores, and we, for the most part, ignore the benefits that trees and nature provide to human beings.

On the International Day against Desertification and Drought, the Center for Environmental Justice calls everyone to better understand the relationship between what people purchase and the damage done to mother earth.

For more Information please contact: 

Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director – 0777600503

Media Division

Centre for Environmental Justice

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