?World?s deserts under threat, action needed? | india | Hindustan Times
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?World?s deserts under threat, action needed?

The world?s deserts are being threatened ?as never before?, particularly by climate change, but can still be used as a key resource if action is taken to protect them, according to a report released on Tuesday.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 14:54 IST
AFP

The world’s deserts are being threatened “as never before”, particularly by climate change, but can still be used as a key resource if action is taken to protect them, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) highlights the problems facing desert areas but also their potential uses in vital sectors such as energy, food and medicine.

“Far from being barren wastelands, (deserts) emerge as biologically, economically and culturally dynamic while being increasingly subject to the impacts and pressures of the modern world,” said Shafqat Kakakhel, from UNEP.

“They also emerge as places of new economic and livelihood possibilities, underlining yet again that the environment is not a luxury but a key element in the fight against poverty and the delivery of internationally-agreed development goals,” he added.

At least 25 per cent of the Earth’s surface — 33.7 million square kilometres — has been defined as desert and is home to more than 500 million people, according to the report, ‘Global Deserts Outlook’.

But one of its authors, University College London geography professor Andrew Warren, said the unique landscapes, ancient cultures, flora and fauna in deserts were at risk of disappearing.

“What alarms me now is that they are threatened as never before by climate change, by over-exploitation of groundwater, salinisation and the extinction of wildlife,” Kakakhel said.