UN Warns of Land Degradation

According to a United Nations report, the first ever of its kind, a quarter of global land is highly degraded. In addition, the report indicated that in order to feed the estimated 2050 population of nine billion, agricultural production needs to increase by about 70 percent.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s global assessment of land resources is the first ever of its kind. The degradation the report revealed are partially the result of the late 20th century’s Green Revolution, a worldwide increase in agricultural productivity. According to the report, from 1961 to 2009 food production increased 150 percent, with land usage increasing only 15 percent.

This increased productivity came at a high cost. The UN report revealed that about a quarter of the world’s available land resources have been highly degraded by soil erosion, water degradation, biodiversity loss, the leeching of important minerals, and pollution. More frightening are the estimates that less than 50 percent of global land can be classified as improving, stable, or merely slightly degraded.

While global productivity may be declining, the need for increased food production is ever increasing. UN estimates predict that the global population will reach nine billion by 2050, requiring a major increase in agricultural production. In the face of this major land degradation, creating a more sustainable agricultural system will be the only way to combat global famine.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer