By Lulu Zhang in The Conversation.
Thanks to the climate crisis, we are fast approaching the “point of no return”, according to world leaders. We are also in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. And the state of worldwide land degradation has also reached a critical level: ever-increasing demands for food production, urbanisation and economic development have led to large and extensive land conversion. All of these issues are, of course, interconnected.
Across the world, we are seeing severe drought and water scarcity, soil erosion and contamination, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidity and salinity, disruption of hydrological and biological cycles, and species extinctions. All these issues place unprecedented pressure on finite land resources over the planet. An astonishing 33% of the world’s land is moderately or highly degraded and in urgent need of restoration.
Land degradation is globally recognised as a major contributor to global warming. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) estimated in 2018 that 10% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions derive from deforestation alone.
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