Desertification, land degradation and drought

This article highlights the winning proposals of the fifth edition of the Elsevier Foundation Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. The winning proposals were chosen for their innovative green chemistry aspects and their large positive impact on the environment, contributing to SDGs 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15.
This book chapter advances SDG 15 by bringing current bioremediation techniques together to compare, understand, and effectively apply strategies to exclude inorganic pollutants from contaminated environments, keeping in view the effectiveness and economics of bioremediation strategies.
Tillage is the most common agricultural practice dating back to the origin of agriculture. In recent decades, no-tillage (NT) has been introduced to improve soil and water quality. However, changes in soil properties resulting from long-term NT can increase losses of dissolved phosphorus, nitrate and some classes of pesticides, and NT effect on nitrous oxide (N2O) emission remains controversial. Complementary management that enhances the overall environmental benefits of NT is therefore crucial.
Climate, land use and land cover (LULC) changes are among the primary driving forces of soil loss. Decoupling their effects can help in understanding the magnitude and trend of soil loss in response to human activities and ecosystem management. Here, the RUSLE model was applied to estimate the spatial-temporal variations of soil loss rate in the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) area during 2001–2015, followed by a scenario design to decouple the effects of climate and LULC changes. The results showed that increasing rainfall generated as much as 2.90 × 107 t soil loss in the TGR area.
Global climate change and land degradation are two grand changes facing humanity. In this perspective, we examine how degraded and abandoned farmland can be harnessed to fight climate change. Building upon and extending natural climate solutions, we suggest that the carbon capture and storage of abandoned farmland can be accelerated and maximized through restoring the diversity of plant species, applying biochar to soil, and co-developing renewable energy such as solar power. The benefits of these approaches extend far beyond climate-change mitigation and land restoration.

Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Systems, Encyclopedia of the World`s Biomes, 2020

This book chapter addresses goals 15, 13 and 11 by discussing how deserts are biodiverse places where life thrives in the extreme.
The destruction of natural habitats is causing loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Although a “zero deforestation” is targeted, agriculture expansion caused by increasing human population and per capita consumption might boost the destruction of natural habitats in the coming decades. Here, we estimated the current and future extinction crisis in terrestrial ecoregions caused by habitat destruction and related this pattern with the current conservation efforts.
The natural world has multiple, sometimes conflicting, sometimes synergistic, values to society when viewed through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Spatial mapping of nature's contributions to the SDGs has the potential to support the implementation of SDG strategies through sustainable land management and conservation of ecosystem services. Such mapping requires a range of spatial data.
Agricultural landscapes cultivated in hilly and mountainous areas, often with terracing practice, could represent for some regions historical heritages and cultural ecosystem services. For this reason, they deserve to be protected. The complex morphology that characterises them, however, makes these areas intrinsically susceptible to hydrogeological instability, such as soil loss due to surface erosion or more severe mass movements. We can identify three major critical factors for such landscapes.
Chioma Blaise Chikere, 2017 second prize winner of the Green Sustainable Chemistry Challenge
In 2017, Chioma Blaise Chikere was awarded the second prize of the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. Her project “Eco-restoration of crude oil-polluted land in Nigeria” demonstrated how organic nutrients such as garden fertilizers and animal excreta can be used to degrade hydrocarbons, cleaning up the soils heavily contaminated by decades of oil spills and advancing SDGs 6, 13 and 15. Three years later, we caught up with Dr. Chikere to learn about her research journey.