Pressures on global land resources are now greater than ever, as a rapidly increasing population coupled with rising levels of consumption is placing ever-larger demands on the world’s land-based natural capital, warns a new United Nations report.
Consumption of the earth’s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years, with a third of the planet’s land now severely degraded, adds the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) new report, launched on 12 September in Ordos, China during the Convention’s 13th summit (6-16 September 2017).
“Each year, we lose 15 billion trees and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil,” the UNCCD’s report The Global Land Outlook(GLO) says, adding that a significant proportion of managed and natural ecosystems are degrading and at further risk from climate change and biodiversity loss.
In basic terms, there is increasing competition between the demand for goods and services that benefit people, like food, water, and energy, and the need to protect other ecosystem services that regulate and support all life on Earth, according to new publication.
At the same time, terrestrial biodiversity underpins all of these services and underwrites the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, such as the rights to a healthy life, nutritious food, clean water, and cultural identity, adds the report. And a significant proportion of managed and natural ecosystems are degrading and at further risk from climate change and biodiversity loss.
The report provides some key facts: from 1998 to 2013, approximately 20 per cent of the Earth’s vegetated land surface showed persistent declining trends in productivity, apparent in 20 per cent of cropland, 16 per cent of forest land, 19 per cent of grassland, and 27 per cent of rangeland.
These trends are “especially alarming” in the face of the increased demand for land-intensive crops and livestock.”