World Underscores Soil Conservation

World Underscores  Soil ConservationWorld Underscores  Soil Conservation

The World Soil Day themed "Caring for the Planet Starts From the Ground" was celebrated worldwide on December 5 at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations headquarters in Rome, the regional offices, national ceremonies and local events.  

The significance of soil for Iranians can be best grasped by the fact that Iran has been ranked among the seven Asian countries with the highest rates of soil degradation, Mehr News Agency reported.

Designated in December 2013 by the UN General Assembly, the international day aims to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and sustainable management of soil resources. The UN General Assembly also declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils after recognizing December 5 as World Soil Day.

Soil is the upper layer of earth, a mixture of organic and inorganic matter, in which plants grow. It is a renewable natural resource. However, it takes between 200 and 400 years to form 1 cm of soil depending on the latitude and for these reason, it is considered as a non-renewable resource on a human-time scale.

Despite the essential role played by soil in the health and economic sectors, there is a worldwide rise in degradation of soil resources due to inappropriate management practices, population pressure driving unsustainable intensification and inadequate governance over this essential resource.

About a third of the world's soil has already been degraded. Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will only be a quarter of the level in 1960.

In Iran, soil is mainly threatened by erosion and contamination. In 1976, around 1 billion tons of topsoil were lost and the figure rose to 2.5 billion tons 20 years later.

At present, the annual rate of land erosion stands at 16.7 tons per hectare in the country, far above the global acceptable rate of between 5 and 6 tons per hectare.

Over 100,000 hectares of grasslands are being destroyed and another 400,000 are at risk in Iran. Moreover, large volumes of the resource are wearing out due to salinity, sodicity, waterlogging conditions and drainage.  

There is around 8 million hectares of arable land in Iran, which are shrinking day by day.

The economic loss caused by the phenomenon has been estimated at 3.5 trillion rials ($87.5 million), which is 14% of gross domestic product.  

Land degradation has led to many issues across the country. The area of forests has decreased by 11% over the past 40 years and around 240 million cubic meters of sediments are washed away and accumulated in dam reservoirs each year.  

Desertification over 100 million hectares of land, 20% reduction in production capacity and a rise in the emission of greenhouse gases are among other direct and indirect outcomes of soil degradation.

A number of events were held in several provinces, including Tehran, Khorasan, Yazd and East Azarbaijan, to observe the global day and disseminate the importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human wellbeing.

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