The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (MENT) through the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR) has embarked on a project to restore degraded land and soil in order to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) in Botswana.
Speaking at the launch of the project, the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng said land degradation is a major cause of the declining agricultural and rangeland productivity in Botswana. “If not controlled it will lead to the deterioration of biodiversity and food security in the country,” said Kereng.
Statistics on land degradation are complex and difficult to come by in Botswana, but assessments show that 91, 000km2 or 15.5% of Botswana is affected by land degradation or desertification. Furthermore, the annual cost of land degradation in Botswana is estimated at P3.5 billion.
The recently launched land degradation assessment and monitoring project will involve land degradation assessment and mapping, land degradation monitoring system establishment, land restoration strategy development and setting of land degradation neutrality. According to Minister Kereng, Botswana has committed over P9 million towards this project over a span of three years. She also indicated that the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) will assist the Department of Forestry and Range Resources with technical knowledge and skills.
“Considering the magnitude and complexity of the project, the government identified and engaged the FAO to capacitate the DFRR by providing expertise and technical know-how,” said Kereng.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 15.3) states that “by 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.”
Speaking to this publication Geologist, Matshidiso Ganetsang explained that by embarking on this project, Botswana is committing to ensuring that the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions well. “This is a great investment. Given the inter-linkages, land degradation neutrality will also address other sustainable development goals such as poverty, zero hunger, climate change and will also enhance food security,” she says.
More than 120 countries have engaged with the LDN Target Setting Programme and considerable progress has been made since the 2030 Agenda was adopted in 2015. “It is an exclusive approach that offsets the expected loss of productive land in Botswana with the recovery of degraded areas. In other words it conserves, sustainably manages and restores land in the context of land use planning,” says Ganetsang.