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Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources

Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools

image of Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources

Land resources are one of nature’s most precious gifts. They feed us and help our societies and economies to thrive. Some 2.5 billion agricultural smallholders worldwide manage around 500 million small farms, providing more than 80 per cent of food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These resources are being degraded at an alarming pace. An estimated 33 per cent of soil is moderately to highly-degraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, salinization, compaction and chemical pollution. Each year we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 15 billion trees, costing the economy around $40 billion. This report focuses on land potential evaluation systems as a critical foundation for land use planning and management. More specifically, land potential evaluation systems are needed to sustain and increase the provision of ecosystem services in the context of climate change, persistent land degradation and increasing global population and per-capita consumption levels.

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Principles for improving existing land potential evaluation systems and developing the next generation

Land potential evaluation requires an understanding of numerous biophysical processes interacting at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Ideally, it also requires foresight to predict the climate, human needs, land management systems, and technologies over the next 10, 50, 100 years and beyond. While this is clearly impossible, we can increase our ability to accurately predict the response of the land to different types of disturbance, because the response of the land depends on a fundamental set of biophysical processes.

English

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