To sensitise on the importance and benefits of sustainable land management in combating land degradation and achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), a workshop was held by the National Soil Services Centre (NSSC) in Thimphu yesterday.

Managing Director of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Global Mechanism, Dr Markus Repnik, defined LDN as a global commitment to halt and reverse land degradation by 2030.

He said that 29 percent of the global area has been degraded. “We are in a crisis that is massively aggravated by climate change, population growth, and ever increasing demand for natural resources.”

Agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji said that Bhutan is no exception when it comes to land degradation. “As a mountainous country there is limited land. Our farmers are forced to cultivate at 40 degree slope which by international standards is unsustainable,” lyonpo said.

Given the rugged terrain and extreme climate, lyonpo said that the country does not have much scope for land expansion. According to the agriculture minister, 58 percent of people still depend on agriculture for livelihood.

Principal Land Management Officer, Tshering Dorji (Phd) said that poor management of land resources would lead to loss of reduced biodiversity and ecosystem services. “It would also lead to loss of habitat and change in abundance of species, climate change and reduced mitigation and adaptive capacity.”

He added that the main intention for organising the workshop was to bring together all stakeholders, as land management is a cross-sector issue.

Achieving LDN would require proper management of land, and mainstreaming of the land activities in government policies and plans to mobilise financial resources.

As of 2010, Tshering Dorji said that landslides, gullies, ravines and glacial moraines have degraded about 204km squares of land in the country. “However, the most extensive form of land degradation is surface erosion,” he said.

The benefits of LDN he listed were enhanced rural livelihood, generation of employment opportunities, establishment of a coordination mechanism, tapping of financial resources and achieving multiple SDGs.

Agriculture land development guidelines will be used during the 12th Plan and beyond to achieve LDN by 2030.

Achieving land degradation neutral world by 2030 is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Bhutan is among 110 countries that have committed to set national land degradation neutrality targets.

About 56 participants attended the workshop that was supported by UNCCD.

Rinchen Zangmo