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ISLAMABAD: Out of total of 79.6 million hectares land of Pakistan, 62 million hectares are vulnerable to desertification, especially in Sindh, Balochistan, and South Punjab, say environmental experts.

Khan Faraz, an environmental expert told a roundtable conference, that there are various factors that are contributing to desertification such as drought, overgrazing, over exploitation of land and water resources, over cultivation of marginal lands, deforestation, soil erosion, water logging and salinity, and the use of inappropriate agricultural technologies.

The loss of vegetation cover has already increased risk of zoonotic diseases but the more concerning issue is desertification in many areas of Southern Punjab. Periodic droughts are the primary cause of desertification. South Punjab has been experiencing this problem due to various reasons that need the attention of the government, he added.

According to a report compiled by the Climate Change Ministry, the programmes that can address desertification included afforestation/agroforestry in degraded areas; improved crop production in dry lands; improved range/livestock feeding and management; soil and water conservation, water harvesting, and efficient use of water resources.

Other preventive actions included integrating land and water management to protect soils from erosion, salinization, and other forms of degradation; and protecting the vegetative cover, which could be a major instrument for soil conservation against wind and water erosion. It may be added that almost 80 percent of the country’s area consisting of arid or semi-arid land, however, much of Pakistan’s agricultural land is vulnerable to desertification - the process by which arable land becomes desert due to drought, deforestation, and inappropriate agricultural practices.

Faraz urged the government for introducing a mechanism to thwart the threat of desertification in many areas of Sindh, Balochistan, and South Punjab.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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Rita Ewing Aug 29, 2022 04:29am
I thought Pakistan was in the desert.
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