[Answered] “Restoration of degraded lands, would also address water scarcity issue.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Status of land degradation in India. How land restoration would ensure water availability?
Conclusion. Way forward.

Land degradation occur due to misuse of the resource (soil and vegetation) beyond the resilience of the ecosystem. The causes of this misuse are overgrazing, wrong cultivation practices, and excessive deforestation for cultivation, and wood fuel. Corrective measures are necessary to restore the ecological balance.

Land Degradation in India:

  1. The proportion of degraded land for all land is 19.2% or more than 17.5 million Km2.
  2. During 2011-2013, 29.3% of land in India underwent land degradation.
  3. Compared with 2003-2005, the country experienced a 0.57% increase in land degradation.
  4. The area under desertification (drylands area) was 82.64 mha in 2011-2013, which rose by 1.16 mha from 2003-2005.
  5. The top processes leading to degradation/desertification in India were water erosion  followed by vegetation degradation and wind erosion.

How land restoration would ensure water availability?

  1. It help in protection of the soil from wind and water erosion and maintenance of its fertility.
  2. Restoration recycle moisture (natural motors) from soil into their immediate atmosphere by transpiration where it again precipitates as rain.
  3. It cause protection of catchment areas and perennial and seasonal water courses to assure regulated flow of water both in quantity and quality.
  4. Deforestation results in an immediate lowering of groundwater level (low percolation due to the quick surface runoff on barren lands) and in long-term reduction of precipitation. Restoration of degraded land reverse this and allow percolation.
  5. Restoration lead to enhancement of the vegetation to which help in absorbing water into soil.
  6. Land restoration help in recharging of ground water through proper seepage and percolation due to air presence in soil.
  7. Restoration is a natural solution for water security. It has been estimated that over 3200 cities could significantly improve their water security – by 10% or more – through forest restoration measures. 
  8. Restoring and protecting forested watersheds around cities can naturally purify water, making water treatment from utilities more affordable.
  9. Forests also buffer cities from the impacts of extreme weather. Their soils and root structures absorb water, preventing flooding. This stored water also helps increase water flow during times of drought.

Access to clean, potable water is a human right that will be one of the defining needs of the next century, as human populations continue to grow and urbanise amid increasing climate changes. Restored landscapes in key watersheds can improve the quality and quantity of water reaching our cities to help meet the needs of the future.

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