Abu Dhabi: The UAE has become the 74th country to join the ‘Conscious Planet Movement to Save Soil’, a global initiative founded by Indian yoga guru and environmental visionary Sadhguru Jagadish Vaudev, who visited Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister for Climate Change and Environment, presided over an agreement signed in the capital between Conscious Planet and the Dubai-based International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), a non-profit research centre that focuses on improving agricultural knowledge.
Sadhguru and other UAE officials then planted mangrove saplings at the Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi, and the guru was briefed about the important role mangroves play in carbon sequestration and soil conservation.
“Soil gives us life, and is the largest terrestrial carbon sink. It also serves as a habitat for thousands of organisms, with one teaspoon of soil said to contain more microbes than the entire human population. Unfortunately, 33 per cent of the world’s topsoil is already degraded, and this could increase to 90 per cent by 2050 without the right protective actions,” Al Mheiri told attending officials and attendees at a press conference ahead of the mangrove planting.
“The UAE already has 60 million mangroves, spread over 183 square kilometres of forest area that capture 43,000 tonnes of carbon a year. We will increase this to 483 square kilometres by 2030, which will contain 100 million more mangroves to capture 150,000 more tons of carbon a year.”
Journey to Save Soil
Al Mheiri welcomed Sadhguru, and applauded his urgent call for soil conservation. Since March 21, he has been travelling as a lone motorcyclist to bring people together for soil conservation action, and to support leaders in instituting national policies to save soil. His Journey to Save Soil is a 100-day campaign during which he will cover 30,000km and 27 countries.
Importance of topsoil
“Experts everywhere say the world only has 40 to 50 years of agricultural topsoil left. By 2045, food production will therefore decrease by 45 per cent, but the world will have to feed 9.3 billion people,” Sadhguru said at the press conference.
He explained that topsoil – the first 10 to 15 inches of the soil – must contain enough organic content. In fact, organic matter must make up three to six per cent of topsoil to be considered healthy and fertile, but this is no longer the case in large part of the globe.
“The UAE is [well] located – both geographically and in terms of political commitment – to turn this around, and can even [lead] the region [in saving the soil],” he said.
The guru also marvelled at the resilience of mangroves in the UAE.
“I was just told that water salinity in the UAE is 41 per cent, and I am still [digesting] the fact, because mangroves are known to grow well only when salinity is below 30 per cent. But here, they are growing and thriving [at 41 per cent water salinity], and we have to admire nature’s resilience,” he said.
He called upon gathered leaders and experts to take firm action for soil conservation.
“If we do not leave rich soil, clean water and pure air, we have taken away our children’s ability to live well,” he warned.
During the rest of his stay in the UAE, Sadhguru will visit Al Ain Oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to 100 varieties of palm trees, and Emirates Bio Farm, the UAE’s largest organic farm, where he will witness the practical application of sustainable agricultural methods.
A large-scale public event featuring Sadhguru is scheduled for Friday in Dubai. There, the guru will speak to about 10,000 people about the importance of soil conservation.