Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 26th May-2021

India has been facing a severe problem of land degradation. To curb this problem Indian government is committed to the target of UN land degradation neutrality (LDN) by 2030. In this light, explain the causes of land degradation. What measures to be followed to achieve LDN by 2030?

Human activities are reducing Earth’s life-support capacity. The ecological imbalance is manifesting itself in the form of well-established trends of air pollution, falling water tables, shrinking forests, polluted rivers and climate change. These phenomena, besides affecting air and water quality, have rendered land degraded both for biotic and abiotic resources.

UNCCD and the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) came together to mark the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

  • Land degradation neutrality (LDN) is a condition where further land degradation (loss of productivity caused by environmental or human factors) is prevented and already degraded land can be restored.
  • LDN has been defined by the Parties to the Convention as:

– A state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.


  • LDN represents a paradigm shift in land management policies and practices.
  • It is a unique approach that counterbalances the expected loss of productive land with the recovery of degraded areas.
  • It strategically places the measures to conserve, sustainably manage and restore land in the context of land use planning.
  • As land is fixed in quantity, there is ever-increasing competition to control land resources and capitalize on the flows of goods and services from the land.
  • LDN represents a paradigm shift in land management policies and practices.
  • It is a unique approach that counterbalances the expected loss of productive land with the recovery of degraded areas.
  • This has the potential to cause social and political instability, fuelling poverty, conflict and migration.

Causes of land degradation

Land degradation is caused by multiple forces

  • including extreme weather conditions, particularly drought.
  • It is also caused by human activities that pollute or degrade the quality of soils and land utility.
  • It negatively affects food production, livelihoods, and the production and provision of other ecosystem goods and services.
  • Desertification is a form of land degradation by which fertile land becomes desert.

Measures to be followed to achieve LDN by 2030

  • Land restoration is one of the cheapest solutions to address the global crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • The action programme in India for the achievement of LDN by 2030 must take into account transformative efforts to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation through socially equitable means.
  • The first step is to initiate action to avoid any activity or process leading to land degradation.
  • Nature-based solutions such as conservation of forests, practicing organic agriculture, utilization of land as per land use delineation and conservation of water bodies should get priority as these are locally acceptable and adaptable.
  • These measures need to be followed by the treatment of degraded areas by supporting plant life depending upon the use to which land can be put to, be it agriculture, horticulture, pasture/grassland or forestry.
  • Increasing domestic public expenditure on protecting terrestrial ecosystems is important for tackling pressing social and economic challenges.

India’s targets would be better achieved if schemes on integrated land and water management such as catchment area treatment, watershed management, soil and water conservation and river basin management are included as well. Implementation of such an integrated management would help in biodiversity conservation, livelihood generation, climate change mitigation and reclamation of land resources.

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