Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: CRIC 17 Assessment
Mains level: Impact of Urbanization on forest cover
- A preliminary assessment report circulated by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) shows that tree-covered areas remain the dominant land use class.
- While the rate of deforestation has slowed down after 2005, forests continue to shrink.
- The Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 17) of UNCCD is meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.
- This is the first such global assessment of land degradation based on data submitted by countries party to the convention.
- The assessment is for the 2000-2015 period.
- Out of the 197 countries party to UNCCD, 145 have submitted data on land degradation.
Assessment on Tree-Cover
- The preliminary assessment based on this data shows that the world’s dominant land class is still the tree-covered areas that include natural forests.
- Tree-covered areas account for 32.4 per cent of total land cover area reported by countries.
- Globally, tree-covered areas fell by ~1, 41,610 sq km from 2000 to 2005, but rebounded by 2015 to a net decline of 35,204 sq km (-0.1 per cent) below 2000 levels,” says the assessment.
- After tree-covered areas, grasslands, croplands, wetlands and artificial surfaces represent 23.1 per cent, 17.7 per cent, 4.2 per cent and 0.8 per cent of the total reported land area.
- Tree-covered areas have increased in Central and Eastern Europe, the Northern Mediterranean and Asia.
- Such areas have decreased in Latin American and Caribbean countries and Africa.
- Sixty per cent of the tree-covered areas globally are in Central and Eastern Europe and in Latin American and Caribbean countries.
- The world has reported the highest change in the land class called artificial areas that primarily account for lands diverted for uses like urbanisation.
- This class recorded a 32.2 per cent growth in the 2000-2015 period.
- In other words, an addition of 1, 68, 000 square km.
- This trend in increasing artificial areas is considered a critical transition, with 48,240 sq km of the new artificial areas coming from previously ‘natural’ areas, jumping to 143,200 sq km when combining ‘natural and semi-natural’ areas.”
- This transition mostly happened from croplands and grasslands.
What made all these changes?
- Transitions from other land to cropland are almost three times the transition of cropland to other land, indicating that more marginal lands have been brought back into production.
- Drivers of cropland losses include urbanisation, improper soil management, improper crop management and industrial activities.
- Population pressure, land tenure and poverty are the most frequently-cited indirect drivers of land cover change, says the report.
- This class has gained 575,000 sq km.
- Most of this is the result of transitions from tree-covered areas (369,000 sq km), other land (310,900 sq km) and grassland (424,700 sq km).