[Answered] The enduring solution to the menace of land degradation lies in evolving and meticulously enforcing, a judicious land use policy based on the capability classification of land. Discuss

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some Causes of land degradation. Also write some measures to tackle this.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Land degradation is defined as the temporary or permanent decline in the productive capacity of the land. Rajasthan is the most land degradation-prone state, followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat. India has to support 18 per cent of the world’s population on only 2.4 per cent land. India is among the 123 countries that have committed themselves to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.

Causes of land degradation:

  • Growing Demand:  for food, fodder, fuel and raw materials is increasing the pressure on land and the competition for natural resources. This has led to over-exploitation of land resources like overgrazing, and conversion to other land uses.
  • Unsustainable agricultural practices:  Faulty land and water management practices in agriculture have significantly contributed to land degradation. Intensive irrigation and high chemical use (fertilisers, pesticides, etc.) adds to degradation.
  • Increasing population:With rise in population, stress on natural resources is increasing. People are looking to move into new areas and are invading new land in order to make houses.
  • Unplanned urbanisation: Economic development has led to expansion of urban and industrial land. The expansion of cities has resulted in the encroachment of forest areas and wetlands. For example, rapid urbanisation triggered by a population increase in coastal areas has caused coastal land degradation.
  • Climate Change: As the days get warmer and periods of drought become more frequent, desertification becomes more and more eminent. Further rise in incidents like forest fires are destroying forests and leading to rise in desertification.

Measures:

  • Using alternative fuels: A major focus for reducing forest degradation is encouraging rural households dependent on forests to switch to alternative fuel sources or at the minimum utilise fuel-efficient devices.
  • Preventing overgrazing: Farmers should be discouraged from overgrazing activities. They must be made aware of the harm of overgrazing to land productivity.
  • Sustainable agriculture: Climate resistant crops need to be developed and used. Efforts must be made to make farmers aware of overuse of chemical fertilisers. Subsidy may be removed for the same and replaced by cash transfer. Drip and sprinkle irrigation methods should be promoted.
  • Afforestation and planting of shelter belts, and stabilization of sand dunes will reduce land degradation. Strategy to reduce forest dependence for fuelwood, fodder and non-timber forest products should be made.

India should take steps to safeguard the physical, chemical, and biological health of the existing normal land.

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