Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu on Monday warned about the increase in non-arable land, saying that 500,000 hectares in the world turn into deserts every year due to poor irrigation alone.
"Turkey is among the countries that will be greatly affected by the increase in non-arable land and climate change due to its geographical position, geological structure, topography and climate," he said. He also stressed that 65 percent of Turkish land has the characteristics of arid, semi-arid and semi-humid climates, and central and southeastern Turkey is especially vulnerable to the risk of desertification.
The minister said more than 60 percent of land in Turkey contains an elevation that is far higher than most of Europe's. More than half of arable land is subject to erosion every year, and 178 million tons of soil is moved to the sea and lakes every year because of erosion. "Turkey does not have a desert but there is a risk of developing one. This will not be a traditional desert with sand dunes, but rather a loss of arable land or a decrease in viability," he underscored. "The increase in non-arable land costs more than $42 billion each year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)," Eroğlu told Anadolu Agency (AA). "Africa alone suffers an annual financial loss of $9 billion."
Eroğlu said Turkey is one of the top five countries struggling with the increase in non-arable land and erosion. The mass planting of trees and improving pastures are among the measures being taken against erosion and desertification as part of an action plan by the government. Eroğlu said an area covering 2.4 million hectares have been planted with trees and areas with decayed forests were rehabilitated.