Actions to combat desertification

actions to combat desertification A number of European states, including Romania, are confronted with desertification.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was observed on 17th June, an opportunity to remind people that pollution, climate change and extreme phenomena will, in time, lead to the destruction of forests and crops and the degradation and desertification of soil. A number of European states, including Romania, are already confronted with desertification. In Romania, the phenomenon is affecting the southern part of the country, near River Danube, as well as the region of Dobruja. In the absence of measures to tackle the problem the degraded surface areas are expanding from one year to the next, with sand taking over more and more fertile land. A 2018 report of the European Court of Auditors noted the lack of a common vision across the European Union and the fact that the risk of desertification is not tackled efficiently and effectively.

 In an interview to Radio Romania, the environment minister Costel Alexe says the current government is willing to support the implementation, as soon as possible, of projects to combat desertification and mentioned a number of measures taken for the stabilisation of sand soil.  

"One concrete example is the acacia forest that has been planted in Mârşani, in Dolj county, for stabilisation and in order to prevent the expansion of sand dunes. The Romanian government has at its disposal the financial resources to carry out these campaigns and forestations on sand land, resources covered by the amelioration fund and the Environment Fund Administration. The local authorities need only identify the land in question and, especially, talk to the owners and make them understand that unless we act very quickly, and we're late as it is, it will be far too late in ten- or twenty-years' time."

Dolj county, in the south of Romania, has the largest surface area of sandy soil in Romania, namely more than 100,000 hectares, an area known as "the Sahara of Romania". The desertification process in Oltenia, a region in the southern part of the country, is closely followed by the experts from the Research and Development Centre for Plants Grown on Sand in Dăbuleni, who have proposed a number of solutions since this institute was created. The centre's director Aurelia Nedelcu believes the efficient exploitation of this type of soil is the solution to combat desertification:

"Sand can be an ideal soil for agriculture, especially horticulture, considering the average temperatures recorded in this climate in Oltenia, which is arid and semi-arid. The amount of precipitation that falls in a year is not enough for any species. This is why we must use irrigation. The soil in this area is sandy, light, the result of wind activity and is easily moved by the wind, which is a very restrictive factor in agriculture."

Fifty years ago, an irrigation system known as the Sadova-Corabia system was built in this area. Over 9,000 hectares of land were deforested, but another 1,400 hectares of shelterbelts were created to prevent the advance of sand. Unfortunately, some of these forests have disappeared in the last thirty years as a result of illegal logging. The director of the Research and Development Centre for Plants Grown on Sand in Dăbuleni Aurelia Nedelcu explains how sandy soils can be stabilised:

"Rows of 10-metre wide acacia shelterbelts are planted on sandy soils susceptible to wind activity and dissipation. They are placed within a distance of 288 metres in the most exposed areas and within 560 metres in the less vulnerable areas. The effect of the wind is thus counteracted by these barriers made up of acacia trees and shrubs. Rye is cultivated in autumn in strips located 50 metres of each other, and in spring we cultivate horticultural plants to act as windbreaks. Irrigation has also helped turn these sandy soils into land that can be used in agriculture."

The Research and Development Centre for Plants Grown on Sand in Dăbuleni has been studying for many years how different plants and fruit trees adapt to sandy soils and the results have been encouraging. The director of the centre Aurelia Nedelcu tells us more:

"Fruit tree plantations were introduced, especially stone fruit trees such as peaches, apricots and cherries. They responded well to irrigation. Vegetables were also grown. The Dăbuleni water melons are now in high demand at farmers' markets. While in the past there was no question of growing potatoes here, this arid region has been transformed, thanks to irrigation, into an area that produces early crops of potatoes, a very profitable business for local farmers. Strawberries are also doing very well here, and they can be harvested beginning in April."

Last year, the Research and Development Centre for Plants Grown on Sand in Dăbuleni started growing species that could so far only be found in Romania in botanical gardens, such as kiwi, olive trees, Chinese dates, goji trees and fig trees. However, creating new varieties and hybrids is not enough, but must be accompanied by the most important means of combating desertification, namely irrigation.
Publicat: 2020-06-26 14:00:00
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