SDG 15 | terrestrial ecosystem life
Three quarters of the national territory may become unusable due to erosion, drought and fires
“Europe runs out of soil”. This is one of the alerts launched by experts in recent years and it is not done because there is no square meter left for human use, but because the land in the Old Continent is ‘dying’. “Soil is a finite and non-renewable resource,” warns the National Geographic Institute in many of its reports.
This thin layer of the earth’s crust is made up of minerals, organic matter, water and bacteria. Barely 15 centimeters thick, they house 25% of the planet’s biodiversity, a percentage that decreases at the same speed as desertification advances. “Our soils are suffering,” warns the European Commission in its report ‘EU Strategy for Soil Protection for 2030’. An X-ray that offers a worrying diagnosis: «Approximately between 60% and 70% of the soils in the EU are not healthy».
A high percentage that in Spain almost reaches three quarters of the territory, according to the
Draft of the National Strategy to Combat Desertification in Spain. Erosion washes away about a billion tonnes of soil in Europe each year. In Spain, “just over 9,000,000 hectares are classified as areas with a high or very high risk of desertification.”
This implies a significant decrease in the capacity of the ecosystem to produce goods or provide services to the beneficiaries. A rapid advance produced by “human intervention.” “In addition, climate change is aggravating this situation with the increase in droughts and forest fires,” adds the Moncloa draft.
colonization of aridity
The uncontrolled urbanization, the drought, the lack of humidity and the pressure on the vegetation is “exhausted”, point out those responsible for the Ministry of Ecological Transition. A cocktail of ingredients that has increased the aridity of the Spanish soil throughout the Iberian Peninsula.
Since the early 1990s, “an increase in aridity has been observed throughout the territory,” says the draft. This loss of soil quality has occurred especially in the center and east of the peninsula (Community of Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and the center of the Valencian Community). However, the experts from the Ministry also point to changes “in a more dispersed way or with less intensity” in the soils of Extremadura, Navarre, Aragonese, Murcia and Alicante.
«The effects of climate change lead to a scenario of general increase in the severity of droughts, both meteorological and hydrological»
Draft National Strategy to Combat Desertification in Spain
The lack of rainfall is one of the main causes of the aridification of the Spanish land. “The effects of climate change lead to a scenario of a general increase in the severity of droughts, both meteorological and hydrological,” warns the draft of the National Strategy.
“This strategy proposes a framework of actions and measures to promote the planning and integrated management of the territory and reinforce the role of the management and sustainable use of land resources in the fight against this problem,” emphasizes the Executive of Pedro Sánchez.
To these two variables must be added deforestation, mining, overgrazing and poor irrigation practices that also negatively affect soil productivity. “All these agents transform the soil into something fragile,” the text warns.
A diagnosis that bodes ill: “20% of Spanish soil is degraded”, which means that they are “areas with relatively low values of both biomass and productivity”. In this sense, the national draft highlights Andalusia and Catalonia where a fifth of their territory has high erosion processes.
monitor the risk
At the moment, Spain lacks “a specific national regulation on soil conservation,” acknowledges the Ministry of Ecological Transition, “despite the fact that there are a large number of regulations,” they add. This first step, with the publication, first, of the draft and then of the final text «aims to promote a national law for the conservation and sustainable use of soils, aligned, among others, with the EU Strategy for Soil Protection for 2030 », explain government sources.
If action is not taken, 1.5 million square kilometers of agricultural land will be lost by 2050
“Giving the soil the same level of protection as the air, water and marine environment, and giving the same attention to the inhabitants of the soil as we give to biodiversity on the surface is a great challenge,” the Commission responds. European. “It is vital for our very survival,” he adds.
Currently, about 40% of the land surface corresponds to dry land, while it is also estimated that 70% of dry lands are at risk of desertification. A problem that calls into question the economic and vital development of a large part of the world’s population that depends on these lands.
If action is not taken, according to the United Nations, 1.5 million square kilometers of agricultural land will be lost in 2050, an area equivalent to all of India’s arable land, “which is essential for maintaining biodiversity and feeding the population.” warns the international organization.
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