TOURISM AND DESERTIFICATION

Recently gaining popularity is tour excursions to arid and semi-arid areas, for example, Marsabit destination. Activities often included are camel riding, sunset photography, night sky gazing and desert sand drives. Sounds fun! However, imagine if everywhere became as hot, arid and dusty? Then it would not be as enjoyable. This year’s theme for desertification and drought day is restoring degraded land. This yearly event is held to highlight ongoing projects that aid in combating desertification and drought.

Desertification is described as the persistent deterioration of land ecosystems caused by natural or human factors in water-deficient areas. This means the temporary or permanent reduction of the quality of ecosystems i.e. soil, rain, and/or the existence of flora and fauna. The natural causes of desertification have to do with the low amount of precipitation received over a long period. The human factors that lead to desertification include but are not limited to; deforestation, overexploitation of land resources, climate change brought by human activities, etc. An example of human activity that aids in climate change is airplane transportation which produces a lot of carbon emissions. The carbon emissions are responsible of trapping heat that should have escaped, causing global warming. It is the continuous combination of such factors that contribute to desertification and droughts. The effects of desertification and drought are dark and ugly. Some of the effects include the deterioration of livestock and crop productivity, decline of biodiversity, reduction of natural resources, and lack of water among others. The tourism industry contributes to desertification in other ways other than carbon emissions when tourists travel, such as;

  • Improper disposal of waste e.g. littering, sewage
  • Putting pressure on limited natural resources,
  • Clearing of vegetation for tourism facilities

Tourism stakeholders should work on reversing negative impacts caused by tourism on the environment, as tourism heavily relies on nature. With lack of proper care towards the environment, tourism is bound to have a finite life. As desertification spreads, the existence of biodiversity of flora and fauna, which is a tourism resource, is threatened.

BENEFITS OF LAND RESTORATION

Land restoration is covered on SDG 15 – Life on Land; Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Through this goal, other SDGs can be achieved, for instance, end of hunger, end of poverty, ecosystem conservation, climate action resilience, etc. Land restoration can also be used to recover from the Covid-19 crisis economically, by creating jobs e.g. forest workers, animal conservationists etc. thus providing for livelihoods. Tourism can also be infinite as the resources that encourage travel are in good condition. Efforts of land restoration aim to reduce and/ eliminate the negative effects of desertification and drought. There are several ways to achieve this, for example;

  • Land and water management practices
  • Protecting and increasing vegetative cover
  • Adopting sustainable practices
  • Land clean-ups
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning or development processes

Although tourism contributes to desertification, it has the power to undo the damage and do better for its surrounding environment. Moreover, for tourism to continue, partakers of tourism have no choice but to reduce the practices that assist in desertification and adopt more sustainable ones.

#DesertificationAndDroughtDay #RestorationLandRecovery #GenerationRestoration

Thank you for reading!

 

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