World Anti-Desertification Day
The World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) is observed globally on 17 June every year. The focus for this year is “attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems.” According to the United Nations some 805 million people in the world lacked sufficient nutritious food between 2012 and 2014. This amounts to about one in every eight people of which the vast majority live in developing countries.
Globally the competition for productive land is growing along with global population growth. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people living on the planet and land for food production will get increasingly more scarce. Anton Bredell, Provincial Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning says combating desertification and halting and reversing land degradation is an important challenge for the Western Cape, a province which has limited arable land. “Only about 23% of South Africa’s land is suited for cultivation. In the Western Cape the figure is even lower - one estimate puts it at 13.9%. Whilst the demand for food is growing, the availability of quality land to grow it on is not increasing.”
Issues affecting the quality of land in the Western Cape include:
Alien plant infestation – this is often linked to disturbances like over-grazing, excessive water usage, fires and floods
Climate and topography
Unsustainable agricultural practises
“In the Western Cape we believe that an effective way of addressing land degradation and desertification is by increasing the capacity of the elite environmental protection group better known as the Green Scorpions. In May we were proud to announce that 25 additional municipal officials had qualified in the past year to be Green Scorpions. Their qualification brings the total number of Green Scorpions dealing exclusively with environmental law enforcement in the province to 46. That’s more than double the capacity we had before.”
Bredell says members of the public looking to report any environmental crime may call the National Hotline for tip-offs regarding environmental crimes – 0800 205 005.