World day to combat desertification and drought: How BeonNAT is contributing
Every June 17th, we celebrate this day to raise awareness on a problem that affects millions of people: drought and desertification. This world day has been celebrated since 1994 and its relevance and importance were highlighted by the United Nations. “Droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development, especially in developing countries, but increasingly so in developed nations too. In fact, forecasts estimate that by 2050 droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population”, says this article released this year by the United Nations on the occasion of this date.
Droughts have become longer in duration and have increased 29% since the year 2000 affecting already 2.3 billion people worldwide, who suffer from water stress. “No country is immune to drought”. That is why this year’s logo is a small green sprout surrounded by warm colours. It represents the need for all nations to collaborate and create synergies to fight drought and desertification together, just like the moto: Rising up from drought together. It is not an isolated event, as it affects the whole planet.
SOME DATA TO UNDERSTAND THE DROUGHT PROBLEM
In Europe, last winter 2021 left fewer precipitation than usually and so it happened with the first three months of 2022, causing drought in larger areas of Europe as well as in the Po and Danube River basins. This drought is severe in eastern European areas. And in southern Europe, Spain and Italy face sub-optimal conditions with their crops. A map of Europe’s current drought situation is available here. All this information released by the European Drought Observatory on its last April 2022 report is, to the least, worrying.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO TACKLE DROUGHT AND DESERTIFICATION?
Drought causes economic, social and environmental problems, but there are solutions which can be implemented in order to be more resilient. Innovation and research can help. For example, some successful business cases have been implemented all over the world in countries like China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines or Kazakhstan to improve water use efficiency and restore damaged areas. Here are some actions from the UN’s report which can help:
- Natural forest regeneration.
- Extended rotation forestry.
- Regenerative agriculture.
- Grassland regeneration.
- Energy farming.
- Erosion control
At BeonNAT we are doing our best to contribute to the possible solutions for drought and desertification and, at the same time, aid the biomass industry. Ten different species of trees and shrubs have been selected to restore marginal areas in Spain, Germany and Romania. From them, some feedstock will be obtained to get bio-based by-products to validate new value chains. In a nutshell, the project is helping to restore this area and foster biodiversity in those areas and will produce more sustainable feedstock for different industry sectors.
An example of how research and innovation can help tackle three problems: social, economical and environmental.