1945

Mankind has inherited a tremendous range of natural resources, notably some 3 billion years of species and ecosystem development, and soil and groundwater accumulations that have taken millenia to build up. Until about the beginning of the eighteenth century we had maintained much of this inheritance. A few species and ecosystems had been lost, and the soils in some areas damaged beyond repair, but these represented only a very small proportion of the total inheritance. During the past 200 years, however, and at an accelerating rate, we have been progressively destroying our inheritance and endangering the well-being of future generations. The destruction has global, regional, national and local dimensions which have recently been reviewed by FAO and are therefore treated here only selectively.

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