ISLAMABD - A consensus for development of drylands through substantial investment is need of the hour as drylands not only holds the key to overcome food security but also vital for ecosystem, biodiversity and provision of employment to poor people". These views were expressed by during a two-day National Workshop on Sustainable Management of Drylands in Pakistan here on Monday. The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Society for Conservation and Production of Environment (SCOP) jointly organised the workshop. Additional Secretary Ministry of Environment Imtiaz Inayat Ellahi inaugurated the event. The policy maker, planners, researchers and representatives of the civil society organisations were also present at the occasion. While speaking on the occasion, Additional Secretary Ministry of Environment Imtiaz Inayat Ellahi said that Pakistan was severely affected by land degradation and desertification due to unsustainable land management practices, increasing demand of natural resources and climate change effects. He described that these are causing enormous environmental problems, including degradation of drylands ecosystems, loss of soil fertility, flash floods, soil erosion, water logging, salinity, deforestation and associated loss of carbon sequestration capacity and biodiversity. He said scarcity of water, frequent droughts and mismanagement of land resources further aggravated the situation. He also mentioned that that one of the objectives of declaring 2009 as the National Year of Environment was to adopt environment-friendly and sustainable land management practices by creating enabling environment for the stakeholders. He informed Pakistan has prepared a National Action Plan to Combat Desertification and mitigates impacts of drought. He described that under this programme, the Ministry of Environment was implementing a project on "Sustainable Land Management to Combat Desertification in Pakistan with Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and Government of Pakistan funding. It is merit mentioning here that the Phase-I of project being implemented at cost of Rs 238.8 million focuses on creating enabling environment, institutional strengthening, mainstreaming Sustainable Land Management (SLM) principles in land use planning and implementation of pilot projects for promoting SLM practices for improving local livelihood. The phase-I of project would help mobilise the additional funds of $12.5 for the Phase II, which focus on demonstration of SLM practices at larger landscape building on the lessons learnt and best practices tested under the Phase-I. The SLMP is being implemented in drylands regions of all the four provinces of Pakistan. Major outcomes of the full-scale project included creating enabling environment for mainstreaming SLM practices, building capacities for sustainable land management, mainstreaming SLM into land use planning, participatory implementation of nine (9) pilot projects for testing SLM practices, and documentation of lesson learnt and best practices. The pilot projects included integrated management of water resources and rangelands in Chakwal & Attock districts at a cost of Rs 10.062 million and poverty alleviation through soil conservation measures in District Bhakkar at a cost of Rs.9.453 million in the Punjab province.