Sustainable land management could generate $1.4 trillionStaff writer ▼ | September 27, 2013
Adopting proven sustainable land management practices could raise world crop supplies by an estimated 2.3 billion tonnes, worth $1.4 trillion.Adopting proven sustainable land management practices could raise world crop supplies by an estimated 2.3 billion tonnes, worth $1.4 trillion.
Conducted by the international Economics of Land Degradation initiative, the scientific interim report says land's economic value "is chronically undervalued and commonly determined by immediate agricultural or forestry market values."
"This focus on short-term gain motivates the highest extraction rates possible from land, leading to unsustainable land management and degradation (the reduction or loss in biological or economic productivity)."
The study highlights the need for a "total economic approach" to tackling global land degradation, "a serious global problem" exacerbated by decreasing crop yields and a fast-growing human population.
The value of benefits far outweigh the cost of prevention and remediation in most situations, according to the study, and valuing land and related ecosystem services is both urgent and necessary to focus attention on a rising world crisis.
Issued at the 11th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Windhoek, Namibia, the study says 10 to 20% of drylands and 24% of the world's usable lands are degraded, resulting in estimated economic losses of $40 billion per year. The problem affects in particular the world's 1.2 billion rural poor, those who depend directly upon the land for sustenance and income.
For the 2 billion people living in drylands, annual global losses of arable land can amount to 8 to 10 million hectares per year, an area roughly the size of Austria. ■