Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do You Know What Desertification Is?

Negev DesertDesertification is the degradation of land in arid and dry sub-humid areas due to various factors including climatic variations and human activities.

Some 97 percent of land in Israel is classified as dry land. The driest area is in the south, the Arava desert, near Eilat.

Israel was one of the first countries to begin addressing desertification crisis.

Despite major conventions on desertification signed at Rio de Janeiro in the 1990s, many Western countries persist in relating to the issue as a low priority. This perception started to change four years ago, when the UN and the World Bank re-emphasized that desertification, a problem that affects more than 200 million people, is a major cause of global poverty and hunger.

Desert TreesIsrael is one of the few countries that has successfully restored marginal lands and is recognized worldwide as a leader in protecting its dry lands from further deterioration. The Negev desert is smaller than it was in 1948, parts of it having been transformed into a fertile breadbasket.

Forests thrive in places where trees never took root before and salt- and drought-resistant plants flourish, innovated by Israeli scientists. Commercial fishponds dot the desert, and algae grow abundantly for use in pharmaceuticals and health foods.

Water management is a crucial part of controlling desertification. About half the water used for agriculture cycles through 240 reservoirs built by Keren Kayemeth L'Yisrael-Jewish National Fund, a key player in desertification efforts and education. Israel reuses about 74 percent of its wastewater; Spain, the second most efficient country in wastewater recycling, reuses only 20 percent.

Source: Israel21c

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