BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY, INDIA
Research focus: land management, bioenergy, and ecosystem services
Producing energy from biomass is an important way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector and thus corresponds to UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Land that can be used to produce food should not be used to produce biomass because this would interfere with ending hunger and achieving food security, which is listed as UN SDG No. 2. For this reason, Adil is focusing on producing bioenergy by using marginal and degraded lands. Marginal land is not used for food production because it does not deliver enough yields to justify the effort. Reasons may be the lack of nutrients or insufficient water storage capacity. Degraded land has lost its ability to grow food by inappropriate, unsustainable land use. Vast areas have been degraded in the last decades.
Adil’s research is focussed on utilising geospatial modelling to systematically classify and explore the marginal and degraded lands. Afterwards, this modelling is used to sustainably manage these land resources for biomass and bioenergy production and to regain other ecosystem services. Adil has screened various multipurpose plant species for this purpose and developed a novel polyculture zonation technique. He suggests the utilisation of indigenous, fast-growing, multipurpose, climate-adaptive plant species for the restoration of degraded lands. Moreover, he has also proposed assessment and management strategies for alien and invasive plant species for halting the biodiversity loss in the ecosystems and maintaining its viability.
Adil has also monitored the restoration processes in the different types of degraded sites (saline, sodic, arid, degraded forests, etc.). Importantly, he has developed soil quality indicators for the ecological profiling of degraded lands so that policy makers can adopt inventive measures for the restoration of these sites. The aims of his research are regaining ecosystem services, supporting a bio-based economy, and improving biodiversity of marginal and degraded lands.
The jury was very impressed by Adil’s strong interdisciplinary interests and his work on finding promising solutions for the use of formerly “useless or neglected” land with multiple benefits. Through this, these lands can become a driving force to meet several SDGs simultaneously, which is imperative not only for the smart and sustainable land utilisation in India but for the global land management.