Guyana will be looking to enhance its capacity to better address land preservation issues next year when the country hosts the 17th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification (CRIC) in January.The event will see representatives from some 196 countries expected to participate in CRIC 17, which will review the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes increasingly dry until almost no vegetation grows on it. This is the first time the conference will be held in the Caribbean Region.“… By hosting this event, Guyana is expected to benefit in a number of ways including: improving our capacity to address land degradation issues and support national efforts to sustainably utilise our land space; to develop capacity to host international forums and to allow Guyana to demonstrate our support and solidarity with countries that face the threat of desertification,” State Minister Joseph Harmon said last week.Last September, the 16th session of the CRIC was held in Ordos, China, during the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 13).It concluded with the adoption of 37 decisions, through which the COP endorsed a scientific conceptual framework for land degradation neutrality, and addressed emerging issues such as drought, sand storms and migration as well as how to align UNCCD implementation with the Sustainable Development Goals.Meanwhile on June 17 last, World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) was observed, urging persons to move away from unsustainable land use and make a difference by investing in the future of land under the slogan, “Land has true value – invest in it.”It has been reported that a third of Earth’s landmass is threatened by desertification, which is caused by degradation due to climatic variations and human activities. According to studies, land covering 12 million hectares is lost every year as a result of desertification.Researchers have found that the deterioration of the “living soil” is generally due to intensive farming, overgrassing or deforestation. In some of these areas, climate change also causes an increase of torrential rains that worsen the problem as they erode the earth provoking a vicious circle, whereby the soil progressively loses its capacity to retain rainwater and to filter it towards the aquifers, and, therefore, the area becomes increasingly dry.Additionally, in some cases, the bad management of water resources has caused the deterioration of large areas of soil combined with the pollution of groundwater, which doubtlessly worsens the problem.However, it was noted that desertification is not irreversible. Experts say that reforestation can prevent land degradation by helping to anchor the soil, increase moisture levels and slow down wind erosion. They added that non-till farming practices too can go a long way in preserving soils.