MTS launches a comprehensive project to combat desertification in the Astrakhan region

Drought-tolerant plants will help anchor the sandy soil and stop the desertification process that is causing the region's increasing dust storms. Researchers of the Innovative Natural Institute of the Astrakhan State University named after V.N. Tatishchev selected plant species characteristic of the territory: dzhuzgun shrub, wheatgrass, giant grate, couch grass, which successfully showed themselves in fixing sandy soils. In order for winter plants to successfully take root, MTS volunteers planted their cold season.

“Desertification today cannot be treated as just an environmental problem. The degradation of the land fund has a significant negative impact on the development of the social environment, reduces the quality of life of the population of the region. Today we are starting the project with the traditional instrument of combating desertification – planting trees and shrubs – however, we see a huge potential for using digital technologies to work on the problem in a comprehensive manner. Artificial intelligence, BigData, video analytics, the Internet of things, mathematical modeling and other technologies and capabilities of the MTS ecosystem can help in the timely identification of areas prone to drought and desertification, the development of a model for sustainable land use in specific areas, the organization of regular environmental monitoring, and the suppression of violations of environmental legislation. We are ready to systematically help the region to solve the environmental and social problems of the territories through such modern, efficient and profitable digital tools,” says Andrey Matvienko, Director of MTS in the Astrakhan Region.

In addition, at the second stage of the project, MTS plans to create an IT infrastructure for scientific organizations in the regions of the Russian Federation, which will speed up the processing of information on the state of natural communities and, based on data analysis, make forecasts and make recommendations to effectively deal with environmental problems, including with desertification and drought.

“Desertification in the Astrakhan region has reached frightening proportions, space images clearly show areas devoid of vegetation and open sand massifs. According to our calculations, now more than 1.4 million hectares of land are subject to degradation, this is almost 50 percent of the region's agricultural land, and the southern part of our region, due to the abundance of dunes, is increasingly reminiscent of the Sahara. In order to prevent the further spread of deserts and dust storms, vigorous efforts are needed to plant plants that can fix the soil and stop the degradation process. We are confident that the joint project with MTS will become indicative and we will be able to draw more attention to the situation in the future,” Anna Fedotova, director of the ASU Innovative Natural Institute, notes.

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