Experts call for better land use to halt "alarming" rate of soil degradation

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Land restoration is key to human well-being. File Photo: UNEP

The world loses 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 15 billion trees each year due to land degradation.

That's according to a new report which calls for more action to reverse what's been called the "alarming" pace of depletion.

The study was published by the International Resource Panel which brings together 34 internationally renowned scientists, over 30 governments and other groups, hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Dianne Penn has the story.

The report reveals that just over one-third of the world's soils are either moderately degraded or highly degraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, chemical pollution, and other causes.

With the global population expanding, the experts say it will become even harder to produce enough food and fuel to meet demands without further depleting land resources.

They provide strategies to make the best use of land which could raise food productivity and increase resilience to climate change.

The report was launched on Friday, the World Day to Combat Desertification.

In his message for the day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that land degradation and desertification are among the reasons why nearly 800 million people worldwide are chronically malnourished.

He added that without long-term solutions, this could not only affect food supply but also trigger increased migration and threaten stability in many countries and regions.

Mr Ban pointed to sustainable agriculture as a means to alleviate poverty and generate employment, especially for the world's poorest people.

He estimated that the sector could create some 200 million jobs over the next three decades.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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