DEA pro­grammes to com­bat de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion

The Star Early Edition - - AUCTIONS -

THE ma­jor causes of de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion in South Africa are habi­tat trans­for­ma­tion and degra­da­tion due to agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, ur­ban de­vel­op­ment, min­ing, in­dus­try and roads, the spread of in­va­sive alien species, sub­sis­tence har­vest­ing (es­pe­cially of medic­i­nal plants) and il­le­gal col­lec­tion of veg­e­ta­tion for com­mer­cial trade (par­tic­u­larly of groups such as cy­cads and suc­cu­lents).

A na­tional sur­vey con­ducted by the South African Na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity In­sti­tute sug­gested that land in nearly 25% of mag­is­te­rial dis­tricts of South Africa is al­ready de­graded.

Be­cause of the un­just dis­tri­bu­tion of land, agri­cul­tural land in the for­mer home­lands has been over­grazed and over­cropped for decades and, in many cases, is now de­graded al­most be­yond re­pair.

In ad­di­tion, land ten­ure laws and prac­tices in the for­mer home­lands and town­ships did not en­cour­age peo­ple to con­serve land they did not have a stake in.

Land degra­da­tion is more than just an en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lem in ru­ral ar­eas – it is also one of the causes of mi­gra­tion to the cities, re­sult­ing in over­crowd­ing and un­em­ploy­ment.

It is there­fore a so­cial prob­lem, which af­fects us all, and must be tack­led be­fore many peo­ple’s as­pi­ra­tions of a bet­ter life can be met.

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs has im­ple­mented com­mu­nity-based pro­grammes, which con­trib­ute to­wards the mit­i­ga­tion of the im­pacts of land degra­da­tion and cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­trib­ute to­ward poverty al­le­vi­a­tion.

Work­ing for Land: The main ob­jec­tive of this pro­gramme is to en­sure that de­graded ecosys­tems are re­stored to their for­mal or orig­i­nal state wherein they are able to main­tain or sup­port the nat­u­ral species of that sys­tem.

The pro­gramme has part­nered with Land­care Pro­gramme, com­mu­nal farm­ers and com­mu­nity lead­ers to pre­vent and con­tin­u­ously con­trol nat­u­ral re­sources so as to mit­i­gate bush en­croach­ment/ thick­en­ing and loss of top soil;

Work­ing for Wa­ter: The in­volve­ment of this pro­gramme in deal­ing with land degra­da­tion is based on clear­ing in­fes­ta­tion of in­va­sive species;

Work­ing on Fire: Aims to pro­mote sus­tain­able land man­age­ment prac­tices; and

Land Degra­da­tion As­sess­ment in Dry land Ar­eas (LADA): run by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries, re­sponds to the need to strengthen sup­port to land degra­da­tion as­sess­ment at in­ter­na­tional and na­tional lev­els and is funded by var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions

With­out healthy soils and pro­duc­tive land, there is no sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. Com­bat­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion starts with the com­mit­ments to pre­serve non-de­graded land and soil, and to bal­ance out the de­grad­ing land with the re­cov­ery of an equal amount of de­graded land.

This will then be­come the com­mit­ment to be­come land-degra­da­tion neu­tral.

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