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Environment and People UPSC NOTE

 Urgency of addressing land management issues in India using integrated and sustainable approaches to secure the well-being of the environment and its people

  • Land is central to all human activities

  • It provides ecological, economic, social, and cultural services

  • But this multi-dimensional character of land is often overlooked in land management practices, resulting is excessive stress, land degradation, and environmental draw down.

  • Globally, the annual losses of ecosystem services due to land degradation has been estimated at $6 trillion

  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) in New Delhi in 2019 specifically discussed the problem of land degradation experienced by different countries and the need to find ways of achieving land degradation neutrality. 

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on ‘Climate Change and Land’ (2019) suggested country-level stocktaking of land management practices. 

  • It also proposed several near- and long-term actions with the thrust on land management options that reduce competition for land with co-benefits and minimum negative impacts on key ecosystem services

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization report, ‘State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture: The System at Breaking Point’ (2021), argued that a sense of urgency needs to prevail over a hitherto neglected area of public policy and human welfare— that of caring for the long-term future of land, soil, and water.

  • India with only 2.4% of world’s geographical area and more than 17% of the world population experiences several land management challenges. 

  • Arable land in India is around 55% of total geographical area and forest cover accounts for another 22%. 

  • The rest is desert, mountains, etc. 

  • Around 30% of total geographical area is degraded land. 

  • Access to agricultural land continues to be an important livelihood issue as a significant share of the population depends on agriculture for their sustenance

  • Development targets and the demand for land to accommodate the growing population, infrastructure, rapid urbanisation, and social, cultural, and environmental aspects are placing unprecedented pressure on land

  • This is resulting in more competition among farmers and between agriculture and other land resource-based sectors, as well as land use

conflicts, escalation of land prices, and changing land rights

  • Across the country, natural areas are being squeezed and ecological functions being lost.

  • Not only does this adversely affect the livelihood opportunities of the people who directly depend on environmental resources, but also the buffering effects of natural ecosystems in the face of disasters such as floods and droughts, temperature rise, and environmental pollution are severely compromised

  • Climate change has brought with it another set of challenges.

  • Science has shown the importance of considering land as a system and promoting integrated landscape management. 

  • There is considerable experience on the ground to follow this approach, but systematic institutional support is hardly available

  • The European Landscape Convention proclaimed that landscape is a key element of individual and social well-being

  • The U.K. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in its Brief 42, ‘Sustainable land management: managing land better for environmental benefits’, in 2021 observed that “actions for addressing and adapting to climate

change, achieving food security and tackling the biodiversity crisis are all embedded in and depend on how land is managed

  • It cautioned the U.K. government about the failure of existing government policies and targets to address the complexities of land management, farming, and the natural environment. 

  • Perhaps, India’s parliamentarians can initiate deliberations on the emerging challenges of integrated land management practices and help devise appropriate policies for long-term sustainability by involving all actors across the scale, both horizontal and vertical.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Environment and People UPSC NOTE
Environment and People UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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