On the occasion of the World Soil Day, the Emirates Soil Museum organized a two-day event featuring a series of arts exhibitions, workshops and tree-planting activities.
Held on 4-5 December 2019 to celebrate the World Soil Day, which is observed every year on 5 December, the event attracted over 100 participants, including a large number of schoolchildren.
The exhibitions and workshops were run in collaboration with the Decrustate Collective; a nature photographer, Mohammed Ahli; an installation artist Asma Alahmed; and The UAE National Pavilion – La Biennale di Venezia.
In line with this year’s theme “Stop Soil Erosion, Save Our Future”, the event focused on raising awareness about the importance of soils and the sustainable management of soil resources, especially among the younger generation, as healthy soils are important for meeting the current and future global food demands. Participants at the event pledged to contribute to stopping soil erosion and planting at least one native tree in the UAE in 2019.
According to an FAO report, soil erosion is perceived as the most significant challenge to sustainable soil management. It is relevant to the UAE as 75 percent of the country’s soil is eolian sand or wind-blown sand, which means it undergoes almost constant wind erosion and is highly susceptible to water erosion.
Erosion has a significant effect on soil productivity and crop yields; it has three primary effects on the growth and yield of crops such as: removal of the fertile surface soil horizon, incorporation of denser subsoil into the surface layer, and a possible decrease in the rooting zone of the soil.
Besides erosion, soils face an incredible amount of threats, including salinization, soil organic carbon loss, acidification, nutrient imbalance, soil contamination, waterlogging, urbanization, and loss of biodiversity.
It is estimated that globally, about 33 percent of the land is in a state of degradation, and some 2,000 hectares of farmland is lost to salt-induced degradation every day. What is more, as a result of urbanization, more and more prime land that could be used for agriculture is being occupied.
Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about the threats to soils and provide information on how to combat or minimize the adverse effects on this non-renewable natural resource.
Located on the premises of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), the Emirates Soil Museum was inaugurated in 2016 with financial support from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). The museum today serves as a unique facility in the Gulf region, giving visitors an opportunity to learn about the importance of soils for food security. The museum hosts field trips, events and guided tours for a wide range of visitors. In 2019 alone, the museum welcomed more than 2,000 visitors, including ministers, policymakers, researchers, farmers and students.