The cost of land degradation

25 September 2013 | Environment

More than a quarter of the usable land in the world has been degraded and the situation is worsening, affecting billions of people. Currently 168 countries are estimated to suffer from land degradation, costing the global economy an estimated US$40 billion a year (N$400 billion). This is according to a study that was just released by the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative launched at the UNCCD COP-11 in Windhoek. The study, titled 'A Global Strategy for Sustainable Land Management', says actions to prevent or reverse land degradation can be financially rewarding while also bringing benefits to the environment and contributing to the alleviation of poverty, especially in rural areas. The study says crops of 2.3 billion tonnes worth US$1.4 trillion (N$14 trillion) could be grown if sustainable land management practices were introduced around the world. This would mean adopting farming and industrial practices that allow soils, water, animals and plants to flourish in the long term and taking steps to restore ecosystems. The report states that land and the benefits derived from it have been taken for granted and undervalued despite warnings of the need for careful land stewardship. "Today the pressure on land has reached such a critical point that serious doubts have been raised about the capacity of land to meet the demands of a human population that is rapidly increasing to nine billion." During the last 20 to 30 years land has been degraded globally, mainly due to land mismanagement, drought-related famines and misperceptions of plentiful food production, low land prices and abundant energy and water resources. Land degradation threatens fertile land throughout the world and the consequences are alarming. It results in food insecurity, pests, reduced availability of clean water, increased vulnerability of affected areas and their populations to climate change, biodiversity loss and presence of invasive species. In addition it is also estimated that 1.5 billion people in all parts of the world are already directly negatively affected by land degradation. Between 10% and 20% of drylands are degraded and 24% of globally usable land on earth is degraded at an estimated economic loss of US$40 billion (N$400) per year. This includes a startling yearly loss of grain worth US$1.2 billion (N$12 billion), according to the report. By 2050 at least 70% to 100% more food would have to be produced from existing land resources in order to feed the current and future generations, it is predicted. If agricultural land productivity remains at the current level, an estimated six million hectares of land, which is roughly the size of Norway, will have to be converted to agricultural production every year until at least 2030 to satisfy the growing demand. According to the study, agricultural investments of over US$30 billion (N$300 billion) per year are needed to feed the growing global population. Globally the human population has reached a stage where cultivated areas can no longer be expanded, except in limited areas of South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, and even then the geographical extent of exploitable land may be over-estimated. Furthermore, land degradation directly affects the most vulnerable human population - the rural poor. More than 1.2 billion people live on fragile lands in developing nations where they depend on the most degraded land for their sustenance and income. According to the lead author of the report, Richard Thomas, there is a serious lack of capacity within developing nations to perform their own research and implement their own solutions to land degradation. ELD also identifies global failures to actually get communities to adopt sustainable land management. The ELD initiative emphasises the importance of engaging local stakeholders in sustainable land management, offering practical applications to ensure adoption of these practices. ELD is also developing a case study database, which has already been made publicly available for independent research, and further contributions are welcome. More detailed reports aimed at the scientific community, governments and the private sector will become available within the next two years. The results from the ELD approach will provide a platform to guide land use and investment and planning decisions that do not result in the further impoverishment of rural farmers or degradation of land. WINDHOEK ELLANIE SMIT

Similar News

 

Leave us alone - sand miners

4 days ago - 16 November 2018 | Environment

The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (NCCI) Ongwediva branch is unhappy with the way the environment ministry is meddling in the lucrative sand-mining industry...

Sand mining workshop today

5 days ago - 15 November 2018 | Environment

The environment ministry will host a consultative workshop at Ongwediva today to discuss uncoordinated sand mining activities taking place in northern Namibia. A media statement...

Swakop aquifer to be probed

5 days ago - 15 November 2018 | Environment

A hydrological investigation of the alluvial aquifer in the Swakop River between the Von Bach and Swakoppoort dams will be conducted to confirm the availability...

N$1.8 billion needed for Etosha fence

6 days ago - 14 November 2018 | Environment

A game-proof Etosha boundary fence will cost about N$1.8 billion to complete.This is according to a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources,...

Etosha to get N$53.7m facelift

6 days ago - 14 November 2018 | Environment

The previously loss-making Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), which recorded a N$14.6 million profit last year, has unveiled a plan to renovate its dilapidated facilities in...

Plastic bags banned in parks

1 week ago - 09 November 2018 | Environment

Visitors to national parks will be fined N$500 if found with any plastic bags in their possession.This new regulation is with immediate effect and has...

Twelve more community forests

1 week ago - 09 November 2018 | Environment

Namibia has 32 community forests in different parts of the country and 12 more are to be proclaimed.This enables local people to participate in natural...

Sand-mining tycoon hits back

1 week ago - 07 November 2018 | Environment

Sand-mining tycoon and Ondangwa mayor Paavo Amwele, who mines sand at Ondando village on the outskirts of Oniipa, is unhappy with the environment ministry, which...

Govt urged to ban primate hunting

1 week ago - 07 November 2018 | Environment

A global animal rights group has asked the Namibian government to ban the trophy hunting of primates. This follows the international outrage that ensued last...

Calls for legal horn trade

2 weeks ago - 06 November 2018 | Environment

Calls to legalise rhino horn trade in Namibia are growing louder in an effort to save the species from annihilation, particularly after China partly lifted...

Latest News

Everyone is struggling

15 hours ago | Social Issues

Poverty eradication minister Zephania Kameeta has slammed those who criticise the government's food bank initiative, saying even those critics with so-called good salaries are finding...

Kahimise, City showdown today

15 hours ago | Government

The Windhoek High Court is today set to hear arguments from twice-suspended Windhoek CEO Robert Kahimise, who is battling to be reinstated. Kahimise, who was...

China: ‘No developing country will...

15 hours ago | Economics

BEIJING - China's foreign ministry said on Sunday that no developing country would fall into a debt trap simply because of its cooperation with Beijing.Chinese...

Bitcoin sinks to new 13-month...

15 hours ago | Business

Bitcoin slumped to a new 13-month low on Monday, with the biggest cryptocurrency touching US$5 173.23 on the Bitstamp platform. Bitcoin was last down 5.2%...

A toast to success

15 hours ago | People

Tunohole Mungoba After completing her entrepreneurship and new venture management studies at the University of Namibia (Unam), 24-year-old Anna Shuuya started pondering different business ideas.I...

Huge wage bill unsustainable

15 hours ago | Columns

Bank of Namibia governor Iipumbu Shiimi has become the latest official to speak out against the rampant state wage bill, which currently stands at almost...

Date nights with yourself

15 hours ago | Opinion

Elizabeth JosephI know it sounds crazy; like who in their right mind would sit in a restaurant, order a three-course meal and eat it all...

Good Business

15 hours ago | Banking

The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) held its annual Good Business Awards and Innovation Award ceremony in Windhoek on Thursday evening. The black-tie event saw...

Shack fires bring death, misery

15 hours ago | Accidents

Katrina Immanuel (9) and her brother Thomas (8) were burned beyond recognition after their shack caught fire during the early hours of Sunday morning at...

Load More