By Akbar Mammadov
Half of Azerbaijan’s population live in areas partially exposed to salinization and desertification, Trend reported on June 29, citing Maharram Hasanov, Deputy Director at Institute of Geography under Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences (ANAS).
“Of Azerbaijan's 10 million population, 6 million live in areas partially affected by salinization and desertification”, Hasanov said.
The expert noted that the process of desertification, which has become a major global problem in the world, covering a quarter of the globe and observed in 110 countries, is one of the important issues that are on the minds of Azerbaijani scientists.
Hasanov added that 60 per cent of the country area consists of subtropical areas prone to desertification, and the Mil plain, located in the Kur-Araz lowland, is one of the most intensive areas of desertification.
Furthermore, he said that a further increase in the number of sand dunes in the Mil plain may result in the rapid degradation of the lands.
It should be noted that the process of desertification in Azerbaijan occurs mainly in the foothills, plains and lowlands as a result of natural, especially anthropogenic factors. The average annual precipitation in these areas fluctuates between 150-400 mm, which is 3-4 times more than the amount of surface evaporation precipitation. The climate is semi-desert and dry steppe.
The desertification process is more typical for the Kur-Araz lowland. The anthropogenic desertification process has intensified in recent years due to population growth, settlement of refugees and IDPs, increasing demand for agriculture, including livestock.
The process of desertification in the Kur-Araz lowland is ongoing more intensively in the Shirvan plain.
Desertification also occurs mainly in the Absheron Peninsula due to soil and oil waste pollution. The discharge of oil products and large amounts of drilling water to the surface also causes groundwater levels to rise and the soil to become re-saline.
The project "Capacity Building for Joint and Sustainable Land Use" has been implemented since 2006 with the technical assistance of the UNDP Office in Azerbaijan and the Global Environment Facility.
In 2011, Azerbaijan joined The European Landscape Convention of the Council of Europe promotes the protection, management and planning of the landscapes and organises international co-operation on landscape issues.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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