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Combating Desertification
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Desertification is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities and caused by complex interactions among physical, biological, political, social, cultural and economic factors, as stated in United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD).

Overgrazing, overharvesting, deforestation, inappropriate irrigation are all main reasons of desertification.

Global Facts

  • 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture
  • 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation
  • Land degradation affects 1.5 billion people globally
  • Arable land loss estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
  • Total land degradation affects some 1.9 billion hectares of land worldwide
  • 24 billion tons of fertile soil disappear/year, the most significant, non-renewable geo-resource
  • Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million ha are lost (23ha/mn!), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown.

Facts for Turkey

2/3 of land of Turkey is arid or semi-arid. However, due to factors such as climate change, the arid lands have been expanding towards Western central Anatolia. On the other hand, the risk areas like arid and semi-arid lands which are vulnerable to desertification have been expanding from Konya Basin into Eastern Mediterranean.

90% of the land of Turkey is subject to water erosion and 1% of the lands is subject to wind erosion. The rate of water erosion is 75% for the arable lands. Official figures for the loss of fertile soil are 220 Million Tons per year in Turkey.


TEMA Foundation takes critical role in combating desertification in Turkey through advocacy, capacity building, campaigning and project implementation as well as through linking the international agenda to local one as a Turkish CSO.

Capacity Building, Campaigning

TEMA Foundation aims to influence the agenda through both bottom-up and top-down approach. We conduct capacity building activities and petition campaigns at grass root level while influence and facilitate government level implementations through introduction of bills, participating in parliamentary environment commissions.

Project Implementation


CROP-MAL (Creation of Rational Opportunities Project for the Conservation of Marginal Arid Land) is an integrated Project to combat desertification with an interdisciplinary approach based on traditional agriculture practices. It has been implemented on a 4100-km2 area in Central Anatolia (Konya Closed Basin, Karapinar) since 2009 as a follow-up Project to I-DESIRE. It is a land use management Project basically with 4 main pillars including

  • Site monitoring and land use planning
  • Monitoring and adaptation to climate change
  • Economic diversification
  • Dissemination of project results

The objective of the project is introduce a land management plan as a guiding reference paper, produced through a participatory process with a scientific manner for the decision makers to adopt the most effective strategy to achieve a sustainable development in the site.

For further information


UNCCD has produced a ten-year strategy plan to implement for the years of 2008-18. However, it is obvious that to achieve soil conservation and to implement this plan without the participation of civil society is not likely. Therefore, 14 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from all over the world joined forces in 2007 in a programme called Drynet where TEMA is one of the partners. Drynet, as stated in its slogan “a global initiative giving futures to drylands” is a network ranging 4 continents and 18 countries worldwide, almost competing with its government level counterparts.

DRYNET partners and their national CSO networks are expected to build the necessary instruments and capacity to participate in the political and budgetary mainstreaming of the aims of the UNCCD and its National Actions Plans. What is meant by mainstreaming is that the integration of the environmental dimension, especially related to the dryland ecosystem, into national development priorities, processes and frameworks such as Millennium Development Goals’, 5-year development plans, Country Strategy Papers and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, and trade related frameworks. This conceptualization has been formalized in the joint publication of The Global Mechanism which is subsidiary body of the convention and DRYNET as follows:

“As countries develop strategic national development frameworks to prioritize and guide resource allocation and official development assistance, development aid actors are increasingly aligning their programmes to these frameworks. It is essential that dryland and land management issues be addressed at this level to raise the political priority of drylands, whether through the NAP or other institutional frameworks. Efforts to achieve this can be called ‘mainstreaming,’ a process that involves dryland issues and needs becoming integrated within all development-related decision-making processes, policies and laws, institutions and planning frameworks.”

3 main targets of the network are;

1. Sharing of knowledge to disseminate the local know-how, research and experiences
2. Capacity improvement to strengthen national cooperation and integration

Advocacy to influence national and international decision making

DRYNET wants to create an operational and actively used structure for the exchange of positive project results and participatory methodologies to combat land degradation among CSOs, key stakeholders from science and key policy-makers. DRYNET aims to strengthen national NGO networks and cooperation in order to build capacities and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge.

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