Home / Agricultural Economy / Agroforestry / DENİZ ATAÇ: DESERTIFICATION AFFECTS THE LIVES OF 2 BILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE

DENİZ ATAÇ: DESERTIFICATION AFFECTS THE LIVES OF 2 BILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE

Desertification affects the lives of approximately 2 billion people worldwide, turning them into “ecological migrants,” according to the head of a nonprofit environmental group.

Deniz Ataç – CEO of the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for the Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) – said that land degradation causes an 11% reduction in food production. “Land degradation is the reduction of land productivity, biodiversity, carbon sequestration potential and all ecosystem services of nature, including wetlands. In summary, (desertification) means impoverishment, lack of food, more drought and thirst,” she said, adding that desertification refers to land degradation in arid areas.

Highlighting that arid regions have fragile ecosystems that will suffer the most from climate change, Ataç stated that droughts in these arid regions are expected to increase and intensify.

“12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) of agricultural land are degraded annually due to erosion, improper soil management, excessive use of chemical fertilizers, use of pesticides for agricultural purposes, excessive and incorrect irrigation, and pollution,” she added.

“With the destruction of rainforests, tropical regions with a humid climate have begun to face the danger of desertification even in this humid climate … Desertification affects the lives of approximately 2 billion people, reducing their well-being, (causing) food shortages and turning people into ecological migrants,” she stressed.

In response to a question as to what steps should be taken to mitigate desertification and drought, Ataç said that preventing land degradation, immediately starting restoration activities and expanding sustainable agricultural practices are the priority. “Restoration work and preventing land and forest destruction are also important as part of combating biodiversity loss and climate change as well as reducing its effects,” she noted.

Stating that the destruction of forests and natural vegetation increases drought, Ataç said that tropical regions with a humid climate are under the risk of desertification, as a typical example.

Touching on TEMA’s ongoing efforts in the field, she noted that the foundation continues its activities in five key areas including forestry, advocacy and environmental policies, rural development, education and organization, and volunteering.

She added that TEMA currently carries out two important projects. One of them is the Hayrettin Karaca Natural Old-Growth Forests Project that was launched to determine and map old-growth forests in Turkey’s eastern Black Sea region.

The project was named after Hayrettin Karaca, the founder of TEMA, who was also known as “Grandpa Earth.” He died in 2020 at the age of 97.

Another is the Nihat Gökyiğit Biodiversity Project, which was launched to raise public awareness and to minimize human-induced biodiversity loss.

Founded in 1992, TEMA is the country’s leading environmental advocacy group that focuses on preserving nature by combating erosion and carrying out forestation projects.

About İsmail Uğural

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