It may take development of the deserts to save forests, say experts, who stress that desert ecology needs to be preserved and enhanced.
Shooing off a quartet of hens that come pecking, 24-year-old Kamala Batra sits guard over a sack of coarse rice spread out on the courtyard. After small black insects slowly crawl away in the sun’s heat, she gathers it to cook for the day’s free midday meal - a pan-India government food security scheme for students.
In a country of 1.2 billion people, the threat of drought takes on epic proportions.
Over a period of two centuries (between 1801 and 2002), India experienced 42 severe droughts, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation. One of these, in 1979, cut food grain production by 20 percent; another, in 1987, damaged 58.6 million hectares of cultivated land, affecting 285 million people.
Last monsoon season, 65-year-old Sunadhar Ramaparia, a member of the Bhumia tribe in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, mixed indigenous crops like ‘para’ paddy, foxtail millet and oil seeds in his upland plot.
While tens of thousands of Indian farmers succumb to the pressures of debt, hunger and poverty by taking their own lives, members of the Bhumia tribe are simply falling back on a 3,000-year-old agricultural system to ensure a steady supply of healthy food.
When twenty-nine-year-old Kartik Wahi graduated from the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago, Illinois in 2010, he wasted no time in returning to India to self-finance a start-up company to market solar-powered irrigation pumps.
Worms and termites are not likely to win hearts and minds, but they, along with lichens and microbes, are vital to food security, say biodiversity specialists who attended this month’s United Nations conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in this south Indian city.
Developing countries are investing enormously in preserving biological diversity, and it is unimaginable that the wealthy nations will not fulfill their obligations to provide funding for these efforts, Brazilian environmental negotiator André Aranha Corrêa do Lago told Tierramérica*.
We cannot isolate biological diversity by geographical boundaries, says Brazilian negotiator André Aranha Corrêa do Lago in this interview.
“With more than 60 percent of the world projected to be urban by 2030 why not prepare for it and build cities that include biodiversity preservation into planning?” asks Kobie Brand of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability in Cape Town, South Africa.
With negotiations to mobilise resources for preservation of biodiversity at a major United Nations conference going nowhere, the Group of 77 and China have hinted at possible suspension of the ‘Aichi targets’ under the Nagoya Protocol.
The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
(COP 11 CBD) approaches amidst a hailstorm of public protest against the ‘tragedy of the commons’ – the rapid loss of biodiversity in forests, oceans and indigenous community farmlands.
Parvez Ahmad Dar climbs three hours to reach the hilltop, generator-equipped tourist centre in Ajaf village, 35 kilometres from Srinagar, to recharge his mobile phone.
The deafening din of the lunch gong is sweet music to the 200-odd tribal girls rushing down the stairway, clutching stainless steel plates and tumblers.
The setting sun is still streaming in through the poplars along the shelter belts, but Horquin Lianjun is done with farm work for the day. The desert wind has turned bone chilling.