World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDD)  is observed on 17th June every year. It is a day set aside by the United Nations to promote public awareness about combating desertification and the effects of drought.  In commemoration of this day, Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and civil society organizations are encouraged to organize events to celebrate the WDCDD as an additional opportunity to increase awareness raising and participation in the process.

The theme for this year’s observation is: Our land. Our home. Our Future.

What is Saint Lucia doing to combat desertification?

Among other things, the Forest and Land Resources Department within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives with support from the Global Mechanism and the UNCCD Secretariat, is currently implementing a global Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target setting process for Saint Lucia. Land degradation is a global phenomenon which includes the reduction or loss in the biological capacity of land resource base and is inextricably linked to loss of biodiversity and by extension a reduction in natural heritage. If left unchecked, the key elements of areas of natural and cultural significance can be immensely eroded or completely loss due to land degradation.

Land Degradation Neutrality is defined by Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) of the UNCCD as “a state whereby the amount of healthy and productive land resources, necessary to support ecosystem services, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scale”. Sustainable Land Management practices which are at the core of the efforts to attain land degradation neutrality and enhancing the resilience of land resources, has notoriously been heavily dependent on community involvement, especially those where community livelihood efforts either contribute to or are impacted by land degradation.

What can you do to prevent desertification?

The first thing you can do is to educate yourself about the positive actions that you can take to combat desertification. The second thing you can do is to tell others in your community about the actions you have taken and encourage them to take action too.

According to Green Facts website, preventive actions include:

  • Integrating land and water management to protect soils from erosion, salinization, and other forms of degradation.
  • Protecting the vegetative cover, which can be a major instrument for soil conservation against wind and water erosion.
  • Integrating the use of land for grazing and farming where conditions are favorable, allowing for a more efficient cycling of nutrients within the agricultural systems.
  • Applying a combination of traditional practices with locally acceptable and locally adapted land use technologies.
  • Giving local communities the capacity to prevent desertification and to manage dryland resources effectively.
  • Turning to alternative livelihoods that do not depend on traditional land uses, such as dryland aquaculture, greenhouse agriculture and tourism-related activities, is less demanding on local land and natural resources, and yet provides sustainable income.
  • Creating economic opportunities in dryland urban centers and in areas outside of drylands.

To learn more about what these entail visit the Green Fact Website and also read the Ecosystems and Human Well-being Desertification Synthesis Report.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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