The Fight Against Desertification

As the global population crosses 7 billion, the pressure on land has increased exponentially in recent decades. Food security, habitat and livelihood are the buzz words these days. The paradox is that despite ever-increasing demand for land, more than 10 million hectares of arable land turns into desert every year. The major factors responsible for desertification are deforestation, over-grazing, unsustainable cultivation methods and poor irrigation practices, apart from climate change. According to Mr. Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, “Land degradation is a global phenomenon, with 78 percent of the degrading land taking place in … Continue reading

Desertec: What Went Wrong?

A plan to power Europe from solar power plants in Sahara desert, popularly known as Desertec, seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future? If you use social media, you may well have seen a graphic going around, showing a tiny square in the Sahara desert with the caption: ‘This much solar power in the Sahara would provide enough energy for the whole world!’ Can this really be true? It is … Continue reading

Mangroves in Qatar: Perspectives

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that have adapted to life in a saltwater environment, usually found in the intertidal zone of a coastal or estuarine area. The halophyte characteristics of a mangrove tree allows it to grow in saline environments where no other tree can, thereby making significant contributions to the local ecosystem. Yet these reservoirs of “blue carbon” are seriously threatened. Across the globe, coastal ecosystems are currently being lost at a rate of about 2% a year – a staggering number when the carbon storage potential is considered.  In a harsh desert environment such as Qatar, mangroves are one … Continue reading

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