International conference on drylands, deserts and desertification to be held in Israel

The conference, to be held in Israel in the second week of November, is described by the Israel ministry of foreign affairs here. 

As the article states – For decades, Israel has been perfecting desertification solutions. With increasing soil erosion, salinization and groundwater mismanagement, it’s time to share them with the world.

Prof. Alon Tal: “If you do nothing about desertification, people will starve and die.”

In a country where 97 percent of the land is arid, the problem of desertification looms large. Over the past several decades, Israel has not only “made the desert bloom,” as the saying goes, but has also invested major resources in learning how to keep dry lands from overtaking fertile soil.

The conference will be hosted at BGU’s Sde Boker campus in cooperation with UNESCO.  It is the second conference in Israel on the subject. More than 500 government officials and academics from 50 countries, including Palestinian and Jordanian delegates, will participate.

“We believe that by bringing a diverse group of academics, professionals and policy-makers together to confront the myriad critical issues of desertification, the BGU conference can serve as a meaningful catalyst for cooperative and collaborative projects in the future at the global level,” says Tal.

Attendees will discuss the public health aspects of desertification; sustainable building in desert environments; remote sensing to assess how flora are responding to anti-desertification attempts; grazing and the Bedouin community; the future of the Dead Sea; environmental education and dry-land agriculture; and soil and water restoration.

Two years ago, forestry experts from several African countries participated in a three-day seminar on desertification. The event was initiated by MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, together with JNF and the Center for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Participants gained pointers on establishing forests, collecting and germinating seeds, managing nurseries, and fostering forest-related industries such as honey production and ecological tourism, according to David Brand, head forester for KKL-JNF.

Israel also excels at wastewater management, a crucial aspect in fighting desertification. About half the water used for agriculture cycles through 240 KKL-JNF-built reservoirs. Israel reuses about 74 percent of its wastewater; in comparison, Spain, the second-most efficient country in this area, reuses only 20%.

Government agriculture officials from nations including Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, China, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso learned how Israel structures its efforts in a ‘triangle’ of research, advising, and fieldwork, Brand relates.   

The conference website is here and includes some beautiful photos of the area around Sde Boker.

The conference themes are varied as are the countries of origin of the speakers, including at least one from Australia.

The conference overview states

The International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) has emerged as an important global gathering of scientists, field workers, industry, government, NGO and international aid agency officials from over 50 countries. The conference brings together experts, officials and lay people concerned about land degradation and development. The presentations consider practical solutions for sustainable and prosperous livelihoods in the drylands. The rich variety of perspectives creates a stimulating, interdisciplinary and compelling meeting. “  


As the conference quote says  

“Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.” (Leviticus 25:19)  


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