Land degradation now critical! – A call for action from the world’s first comprehensive assessment of land degradation and restoration
Earlier this week the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released the Summary for Policymakers for their assessment of land degradation and restoration. The summary reveals that land degradation is threatening the livelihoods of billions of people, intensifying climate change, inducing conflicts and driving a mass extinction.
IPBES is an intergovernmental body, similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and provides policymakers with scientific assessments of the planet’s biodiversity and wellbeing of the ecosystems. For the past three years, leading experts from IPBES have worked on the world’s first comprehensive assessment of land degradation and restoration. The full report will be presented later this year but the Summary for Policymaker already calls for action to halt the global land degradation.
Globally, the most extensive driver for land degradation is the expansion and the unsustainable use of croplands. The degradation of the Earth’s land surfaces is causing a mass-extinction and biodiversity loss. This impacts the livelihoods of 3.2 billion people depending on ecosystem services compromised by land degradation. By 2050, around 500-700 million people could have been forced to migrate due to land degradation and climate change.
Land degradation is closely linked to climate change, as the underlying drivers are the same and land degradation is resulting in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Deforestation alone stands for around 10 % of the global emissions of GHGs. When land is degraded, carbon stored in the soil is also released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Land restoration is thus an important mitigation strategy to halt climate change. Restoration measures could contribute with as much as one third of the reductions in GHG emissions necessary to keep global warming below the critical limit of 2 degrees.
The report has also reviewed successful examples of land restoration and identified agroforestry as an important strategy for cropland restoration. Agroforestry can also increase yields, which could further reduce land degradation, as low productivity is a major driver for exploitation of untouched land. With this report, decisions makers in governments, business, academia and local communities can make informed decisions for effective actions to reach a zero net land degradation, no loss of biodiversity and improved human well-being. Restoration measures will also generate economic benefits as inaction is costing three times more than taking actions to stop land degradation.
Read the Summary for Policymakers or the press release to learn more about land restoration and the work by IPBES.
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