This volume deals with land degradation, which is occurring in almost all terrestrial biomes and agro-ecologies, in both low and high income countries and is stretching to about 30% of the total global land area. About three billion people reside in these degraded lands.
Healthy soils are essential for sustaining economies and human livelihoods. In spite of this, the key ecosystem services provided by soils have usually been taken for granted and their true value – beyond market value – is being underrated.
As the population continues to grow and natural resources become scarcer, the need to shift toward an environmentally responsible, socially accountable, more equitable, and “greener” economy has become increasingly apparent.
In recent years, prices of agricultural land have increased quickly, actually doubling and tripling in many parts of the world. This land value reassessment has been prompted by rising crop prices and perceived land scarcity. But even as the value of land rises, land degradation continues and investments to prevent it are lagging.
A review of literature on global evaluations of land degradation shows a significant development in methods and approaches to mitigate it. Earlier evaluations based their assessments on expert opinion and concentrated on only a few types of land degradation—namely soil erosion and deforestation.
Understanding the linkages between land degradation, land management, and poverty is essential for designing policies that simultaneously reduce poverty, reverse land degradation, and encourage the adoption of sustainable land management practices.