The risk of desertification increases due to the misuse of water and soil


Guzman Robador | Alicante (EFE).- The risk of desertification increases mainly in arid and semi-arid areas of Spanish territory, among other factors, due to the “misuse” of “two key resources: water and soil”, according to warned the biologist and ecologist Fernando Maestre Gil, National Research Prize ‘Alejandro Malaspina’ in the field of Science and Technology of Natural Resources 2022 and Rei Jaume I Prize in Environmental Protection 2020.

Distinguished researcher at the University of Alicante (UA), Fernando Maestre Gil has become a great reference in Spain for his numerous and important advances in the study of biodiversity and the ecology of arid zones, while distinguishing himself for his contributions of international significance regarding the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems and desertification.

In an interview with EFE, this expert, from the Alicante town of Sax, said he was not very optimistic about the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) this year in Egypt.

“If our atenemos a los resultados de todas las COP anteriores, siempre hay muy buenas palabras y muchos compromisos, pero luego, a la hora de la verdad, no se implementan en la práctica o con la velocidad necesaria para que sean realmente efectivos”, he said.

Progress in decarbonization


And to add: “I am a little skeptical that the agreements (of COP27) really put us on the right track, especially since we are going much slower in decarbonizing our economy and our fashion. of life than we should and, therefore, we are not able to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as established in the Paris Agreement (2015) , an elusive goal.

The pioneering work of Fernando Maestre Gil contributed to the formation of the drylands development paradigm, which has been used in official United Nations reports to guide decision-making aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). on the planet and halt desertification.

“The risk of desertification is increasing in our country: this summer the national park of Doñana (Andalusia) has dried up, that of Tablas de Daimiel (province of Ciudad Real) is in a critical state and other semi-arid areas of the peninsula less known but of great ecological value, such as the oasis of Río Aguas, in Almería, are disappearing. These are clear examples of desertification,” said the also director of the AU’s Drylands Ecology and Global Change Laboratory.

She confirmed that “climate change” and “the associated increase in temperatures and aridity, as well as changes in rainfall patterns and the increase in the frequency of increasingly intense droughts are not helping” and promote desertification.

limit irrigation


“Now the main factor that desertifies our territory is the poor use we make of two essential resources, water and soil, especially in intensive irrigated agriculture,” he said.

Fernando Maestre Gil considered that irrigation is “one of the main agents” that desertifies the territory due to the “degradation of a basic resource, water”, with overexploitation, contamination and salinization of aquifers in many many cases, and pointed out that agriculture “uses almost 80% of all the water” that is consumed in our country.

“Honestly, we have to ask ourselves whether or not to limit irrigation, because we cannot continue to spend water as we have done and because we are depleting, contaminating and overexploiting a fundamental resource for life. and our development, which is water. ,” he said.

This expert pointed out: “We lack water for human consumption, as is the case in many cities of our country, which are already beginning to have supply problems due not only to droughts like the one we have been experiencing in these two recent years in many parts of Spain, but also to excessive and often uncontrolled consumption – due to illegal water withdrawals – and contamination with nitrates and pesticides caused by activities such as intensive irrigated agriculture and macro-farms”.

More trees and shade in the streets


Among other management policies to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, this researcher proposes, in addition to advancing in decarbonization, reducing water consumption.

“One of the main adaptation measures” in the face of the “scenarios of less water availability” which are expected is “to try to safeguard, as far as possible”, our water resources, he specified. .

According to him, another “very important” line of action, this at the local level, consists in providing cities with “much more green spaces and much more shade”, as well as reducing “the number of cars which pass in front of our cities”. EFE


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