Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) refers to maintaining or enhancing the quality and quantity of land resources necessary for ecosystem functions and food security within a defined space and time. This approach involves countering the loss of productive land by recovering degraded areas. India’s participation in the global initiative “Bonn Challenge” further underscores its commitment to restore vast hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Initiatives to Achieve Land Degradation Neutrality:

  • Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed an atlas that not only provides state-wise data on degraded land but also tracks changes over 15 years (2003-05 to 2018-19). This data aids in better planning and policy formulation.
  • Renewed National Action Programme: India is in the process of renewing its comprehensive programme adopted in 2001 to combat desertification, aligning it with contemporary challenges.
  • Centre for Excellence: A scientific approach to land degradation is being promoted through the establishment of a Centre for Excellence in Dehradun, fostering research and expertise.
  • Community Participation: Community-based development has shown promise in restoring degraded lands. The success story of pastoral communities rejuvenating the Banni grasslands in Gujarat exemplifies this approach.
  • Water and Soil Management: Addressing water erosion, a major contributor to land degradation, is central to India’s efforts. Initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana focus on water-use efficiency, while the National Water Mission encourages basin-level water management and citizen engagement. The Soil Health Card scheme curbs irrational fertilizer use, preserving soil quality.
  • Other Initiatives: National afforestation programmes and the National Mission for Green India contribute to combating land degradation. The Swachh Bharat Mission’s success in controlling soil pollution aids in preventing degradation. Collaboration with the Global Environment Facility for the Sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management Programme furthers these efforts.
  • South-South Cooperation: India extends its expertise to other developing nations in formulating land restoration strategies, emphasizing international cooperation.

Challenges and Future Prospects:

  • India faces a significant challenge with approximately 29% of its land considered degraded.
  • Solutions like increased community participation and adopting sustainable farming and mining practices are crucial. The achievements in Banni Grasslands demonstrate the potential.
  • Though India has made strides according to an IUCN study, there remains a substantial journey ahead to achieve LDN.

Land degradation poses a critical challenge to India’s sustainable development. The nation’s participation in global initiatives like the “Bonn Challenge” and its multifaceted approach, ranging from technological interventions to community engagement, reflect its commitment to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality. The path to LDN requires collaborative efforts, innovative strategies, and steadfast implementation to ensure a healthy and productive land ecosystem for the generations to come.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish March 21, 2024