The World Day to Combat Desertification is observed every year on 17 June all over the world. The aim of this day is to highlight increasing dangers of desertification, land degradation and drought. The 2011 theme of this special day focuses specifically on the forests in the drylands areas of the world, guided by the motto: ‘Forests keep drylands working’.
“Uncle, why there are no trees in this area..?” asked ever curious Panchi.
“Well, this is the edge of the forests, and it seems some bad people have cut all the trees in this area”. Knowing Panchi would ask a second question, uncle also told that the trees are used as timber to make furniture etc.
“We also have lots of tables, chairs at our home made out of timber. Even our window frames and doors are made of Timber. So trees are very useful – shouldn’t more trees be but, so we can have lots of furniture. ”
“No, Nangi – it is not good. If there are no trees, our country too will be a Desert.” Puncha couldn’t believe his sister’s ignorance.
“Dessert – good ne.. I like to eat desserts after a meal.. Ha… ha..” Panchi wanted to irritate her big brother purposely this time.
Knowing the siblings are going to start a fight; guide uncle intervened.
“That is true – if we cut lots of trees, the land will be affected. You know trees helps to bring rain and also helps to minimize soil erosion. If trees are cut, it sure will lower the quality of that land” guide uncle explained.
“Desert with single ‘s’ usually means a waterless area of land with little or no vegetation typically covered with sand” Guide uncle resolved the quarrel.
“Sahara is world’s largest hot desert” Puncha proudly wanted to show his knowledge.
“yes, Sahara in Africa is world’s largest desert” guide uncle too confirmed. Arabian Desert in Middle East, Gobi Desert in Asia, Kalahari Desert in Africa are some other big hot deserts”
“Deserts are also known as Sea of Sands and very little animals and plants can live in these areas. Animals that live in the desert are usually small and have adaptations to cope with the lack of water, the extreme temperatures, and the shortage of food. To avoid daytime heat, many desert animals become nocturnal; they burrow beneath the surface or hide in the shade during the day, emerging at night to eat. Many desert animals do not have to drink at all; they get all the water they need from their food.”
“Do we have deserts in Sri Lanka..?” Panchi now seriously wanted to know.
“No, we are lucky that there are no deserts in our country yet. But if we continue cutting trees and not protect environment, some of our lands too will slowly turn into desert after a long time” uncle warned.
“Further degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and drylands due to various factors: due to climatic variations and human activities” This process is known as Desertification” guide uncle has lots of things to explain.
“We have lots of drylands where they don’t get rain throughout the year as much as in Sinharaja. So trees and forests in these areas too should be protected to avoid this Desertification – isn’t it uncle..?” Puncha asked.
Uncle nodded happily as both siblings understood the need to protect forests.