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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) A new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), released this week, finds that consumption of the earth’s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years. A third of the planet’s land, the report warns, is now severely degraded. “Each year, we lose 15 billion trees and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil,” the UNCCD’s report The Global Land Outlook (GLO) says, adding, "Land degradation also triggers competition for scarce resources, which can lead to migration and insecurity while exacerbating access and income inequalities." Moreover, a significant proportion of managed and natural ecosystems are degrading and face further risk from climate change and biodiversity loss. These trends, the report states, are “especially alarming” in the face of increased demand for land-intensive crops and livestock. According to the report, “Soil erosion, desertification, and water scarcity all contribute to societal stress and breakdown. In this regard, land degradation can be considered a ‘threat amplifier’, especially when it slowly reduces people’s ability to use the land for food production and water storage or undermines other vital ecosystem services.” The report also notes that our food system has put its focus on short-term production and profit as opposed to long-term environmental sustainability. The modern agricultural system, the authors continue, is based on monocultures, genetically modified crops (GMOs), and the intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, which undermine long-term sustainability. Monique Barbut, the UNCCD Executive Secretary, said this self-destructive trend can be reversed. “It is in all our interests to step back and rethink how we are managing the pressures and the competition,” she said. “The Outlook presents a vision for transforming the way in which we use and manage land because we are all decision-makers and our choices can make a difference – even small steps matter.”

Posted September 13th, 2017