Italy launches anti-desertification plan

Fears of climate change impacts prompt survey of areas at risk, funding assessment

The Italian government has launched a programme to combat desertification in the light of potential global warming. Over a quarter of Italy is already designated as "at risk" from desertification, particularly in the south. Climate change could make the problem much worse, it is feared.

Under the plan, the Italian committee for economic planning and regional authorities are to survey areas at greatest risk by the end of May. The government will re-evaluate budgets of various ministries available to combat desertification and will re-allocate funds if necessary, according to junior environment minister Valerio Calzolaio.

According to a recent study by environmental group Legambiente, an increase in temperature of 2-3.2 degrees centigrade over the next century due to global warming would cut available water resources from a current 6.3bn cubic metres (m3) to 5.1bn m3 by 2100 in Sicily. The temperature rise would also seriously jeopardise the region's citrus crop industry by increasing water salinisation.

Follow Up:
Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 06 57 22 55 80; Legambiente, tel: +39 06 862 681.

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