INTRODUCTION: Experts from 55 countries are meeting in Aldeia das Acoteias, Portugal, to prepare for a United Nations conference on desert problems which will take place in Kenya this summer.
INTRODUCTION: Experts from 55 countries are meeting in Aldeia das Acoteias, Portugal, to prepare for a United Nations conference on desert problems which will take place in Kenya this summer. The main problem is fighting desertification -- the name given to the spread of the desert.
SYNOPSIS: The meeting is taking place in the Portuguese holiday resort of Aldeia das Acoteias. When it began Portuguese Minister of State Henrique de Barros said although Portugal was not unduly concerned with the problem, semi arid conditions existed over five per cent of the country's surface.
The executive director for the United Nations Programme for Environment. Dr. Mostafa Tolba of Egypt, thanked Portugal for agreeing to host the meeting. He said it showed the willingness of the international community to work together under the United Nations even though a problem did not seem to be of immediate concern to every member.
This is the Saudi Arabian desert. The arid lands of the world are home to one human being in eight and cover more than a third of the earth. What concerns the United Nations is that the amount of desert in the world is growing. The Unite Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation calculates that six or seven per cent of the world-about half the land area of South America has been degraded to desert like conditions in 50 years because of man's activities. Land that used to be productive now lies barren because of overgrazing and deforestation.
This is the Sahara desert in Mali. One of the United Nations case studies being discussed at the meeting in Portugal concerns neighbouring Upper Volta which also suffers badly from desert creep as the erosion is called. The study suggests Upper Volta should reduce its burden of animals and people but the country's development plan calls for population growth. It is major problems like these that the conference in Portugal and the other conferences to follow will be trying to solve.