Milan (Italy) – Mauro Centritto, Director, Institute for Tree Species and Timber (Invalsa), has said that more than 21 per cent of Italy is on desertification alert, with 41 per cent of the affected area in the south.
He released this figures on Thursday in Rome at a conference on drought, degradation and desertification, in Milan, organised by the National Research Council (CNR).
Centritto said drought had affected 41 per cent of the earth’s surface, where almost two billion people live, while 72 per cent of the land affected is in developing countries.
He said this was a link between poverty and desertification, adding that desertification triggers migration and leads to environmental refugees.
“This is a problem which is crucial and hardly mentioned or divulged.
“In Sicily the area affected could amount to 70 per cent, in Apulia, 57 per cent, in Molise, 58 per cent, in Basilicata 55 per cent.
“In Sardinia, Marche, Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Abbruzzo and Campania these range between 30 and 50 per cent.
“By the end of this century estimates highlight a considerable fall in precipitation, especially during summer months, in the Mediterranean basin area and temperature rises of 4-6 degrees. Both factors together will trigger severe drought,” he said.
The director said climate change could be reduced with changes in energy policies.
“Desertification will not stop since it is related to bad soil management and less hospitable areas might cause even more migration.
“Drought affects Mediterranean basin countries, which are the most fragile from the environmental standpoint and most likely to be conditioned by man’s activities,’’ he said.
Cetritto said most of the people coming to Italy did not flee from war areas, butfrom areas where they could no longer survive due to desertification.
“In this case, they are ‘environmental refugees’ and the number of these inflows will tend to increase exponentially in the near future”, he said.
Cetritto, therefore, called for more systemic approach to returning ecological balance to the affected areas. (AGI/NAN)