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Dayah: Desertification Threatens 59 % of Syrian Lands..Doubling Efforts to Face This Phenomenon.

Damascus, (SANA) - Minister of State for Environment Affairs Kaukab al-Sabah Dayah on Thursday said the Syrian government has exerted great efforts to combat desertification, reduce the effects of drought and achieve sustainable development. In a celebration marking World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought held at al-Assad Library, Minister Dayah added that the Environment Ministry has finished its national plan to combat this phenomenon. The plan included pasture development projects, road network development, traditional water management technique and the use of renewable energy resources as well as wind erosion project in cooperation with al-Furat University, she added. The Minister indicated that preserving environment required cooperation between governmental and civil sectors to monitor water pollution, establish natural reserves, combat desertification, develop forest management plan and to build treatment plants all over the Syrian cities. According to studies, desertification threatens 109 thousand km2 (59 percent) of Syrian landsreducing the area of pastures and destroying large areas of cultivated rain-fed lands. For his part, Director-General of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) Rafik Ali Saleh called for unifying efforts to set a comprehensive strategy to protect ground resources and increase their productivity to improve economical and social situation. He added that ACSAD has established a special laboratory to monitor desertification phenomenon, build drought early-warning system and support the Arab efforts to combat desertification and preserve natural resources and fix sand dunes. Director of Land Safety at the General Authority for Environmental Affairs Khaled al-Shara said al-Badya (semi-desert areas) has reached an advanced stage of desertification by the end of the 1980s. Cultivated rain-fed lands increased to reach 218 thousand hectares in 1985 and 522 thousand hectares in 1990, he said. In turn, Director of the National Climate Change Project Youssef Meslmani said the arid areas constitute 71 percent and semi-arid lands constitute 23 percent of Syria's lands. Pastures cover an area of 44 percent, arable lands spread over an area of 33 percent and forests constitute 3 percent. The remaining area (20 percent) includes the cities, services, sabulous and rocky terrains, lakes and rivers. Syria participated in the 1992 Earth Summit, held in Brazil. It also took part in setting the agenda of the 21st century and signed the international agreement to combat desertification in 1994. The celebration ceremony dubbed "Enriching Soil any Place, Supports Life Everywhere." The United Nations' World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is annually observed on June 17 to highlight the urgent need to curb the desertification process. It also aims to strengthen the visibility of the dry lands issue on the international environmental agenda. R.Raslan / Ghossoun / Zahra

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Publication:Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
Date:Jun 18, 2010
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