Land degradation and land management


To fight desertification, let’s manage our land better


In the future, desertification could displace up to 135 million people by 2045.

Land degradation could also reduce global food production by up to 12% and push world food prices up by 30%. In Egypt, Ghana, Central African Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Paraguay, land degradation could cause an annual GDP loss of up to 7%.

Pressure on land resources is expected to increase as populations grow, socio-economic development happens and the climate changes. A growing population will demand more food, which means that unsuitable or especially biodiverse land will be claimed for farming and be more vulnerable to degradation. Increased fertilizer and pesticide use related to agriculture will increase nutrient loading in soils, causing eutrophication and declines in fertility over time. Climate change will also aggravate land degradation—especially in drylands, which occupy 40% of global land area, and are inhabited by some 2 billion people. Urban areas, which are located in the world’s highly fertile areas, could grow to account for more than 5% of global land by mid-century.

Unless we manage our land better, every person will rely on just .11 hectares of land for their food; down from .45 hectares in 1960.

So how do we manage land better?

It will all come down to what we do with our soil, which is the most significant natural capital for ensuring food, water, and energy security while adapting and building resilience to climate change and shocks. The soil’s nutrient cycling provides the largest contribution (51%) of the total value (USD33 trillion) of all ‘ecosystem services’ provided each year. But soil’s important function is often forgotten as the missing link in our pursuit of sustainable development.

Read the full article: The World Bank – Voices

Desertification in Haiti

Photo credit: Google

“You should have seen the top of these mountains 4 years ago. There were no trees, only few unwanted grasses. Now we can begin to see many changes in the landscape and the texture of the soil is less rocky. All of this because of HTRIP that helps us to produce more than 7,000 seedlings every year in our community tree nursery. HTRIP makes us believe in soil conservation and tree planting as the solution to many of our ecological problems”

— Charles Watson, HTRIP Leader in Drice, Verettes District

A Case Study of the Desertification of Haiti

by Johnson Williams

in Journal of Sustainable Development   ISSN 1913-9063 (Print)   ISSN 1913-9071 (Online)



One of the largest Caribbean nations, Haiti has 27,720 Square kilometers of land. Less that 20% of the land under cultivation is appropriate for agriculture. Once covered by forest, this country has been heavily logged and now mostly deforested. The majority of the arable land is being farmed beyond their carrying capacity. The total area under agriculture production is 6 times greater than the estimated areas suitable for agriculture resulting in significant deterioration of the land. Although the national governments as well as other governments have made several attempts to combat desertification, few initiatives have been successful.
This research will: (1) review desertification, (2) assess the current state of desertification in Haiti and on the island of Hispaniola, (3) review the impact of internal and external programs designed to reverse the effects of desertification, (4) compare the indicators of desertification that exist on the island of Hispaniola, and (5) discuss the consequences of desertification for Haiti as well as proactive strategies for reversing the negative effects.
References on Desertification
Ahmad, Y.J. and M. Kassas. (1987). Desertification: Financial Support for the Biosphere. West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press.
Conway, Dr. J. Jickling, J. Haiti Agroforestry Outreach Project Extension, (1987-90). Pan American Development Foundation.
Desertification Tables and Charts for Haiti. Retrieved from Executive Summary Third National Report of the Republic of Haiti (2006), Retrieved from
Reining, P. (1978). Handbook on Desertification Indicators. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
J.F. Reynolds and D.M. Stafford Smith. (2004). “Global Desertification’s, Do Humans cause Deserts?”, Environmental Science and Policy, Volume 7, Issue 2, April 2004, pp.118-199.
UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). (1984). General Assessment of Progress in the Implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, 1978-1984. GC-12/9.


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Massive “greening” of the Arctic

Photo credit: Science Heathen

Massive Arctic Greening Within Only A Few Decades? Transformation Could Make The Arctic The Center Of Human Activity

The Arctic will experience a massive “greening” in the coming decades as a result of rising temperatures and climate change, new research from the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation has found. The research shows that rising temperatures will cause total plant cover area in the Arctic to increase significantly, with wooded areas increasing in size by as much as 50% in only a few decades. This rapid increase in vegetation will result in accelerated warming within the region and also globally.

Read the full article: Science Heathen

Ambitious targets for Desertification at the Rio+20 (Google / RTCC)

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UNCCD: World Leaders must set ambitious desertification goals at Rio+20

By Tierney Smith

World leaders must set ambitious targets for Desertification at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification has said.

Writing for RTCC for Desertification Week, the convention’s Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said that the conference will offer an important opportunity to increase political momentum.

“First and foremost, world leaders need to set an ambitious target that will bring desertification to a halt and empower a land-degradation neutral society,” he said.


Communities and Iranian desertification projects (Google / RTCC)

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Putting communities at the heart of Iranian desertification projects

By Tierney Smith

Iran is home to two of the world’s largest deserts, and around 100 million hectares of this land – around 70% – is suffering from desertification.

The average rainfall in Iranian deserts is about 50 mm annually compared to 320mm elsewhere in the country.

One professor at the Allameh Tabatabai University, Esmail Kahrom, has called on the government in Iran to improve water management, which he believes has increased desertification across the country.

He said last year Iran had jumped to the top position for soil erosion, from second place in 2010, which he has blamed on the drying up of ponds and lakes, the retreat of groundwater supplies and deforestation and vegetation elimination.

However, action to combat desertification is not new in the country, and the first projects aimed to do just that were implemented over six decades ago.

Dr Farshad Amiraslani, Assistant Professor at the University of Tehran, has been looking back over the last half a century of desertification action in Iran to see what the country has learnt from such projects.

Engaging communities

For Dr Amiraslani, two specific changes to the way Iran dealt with desertification triggered a change in the success of projects on the ground.

Firstly in 2004, following the government’s commitment to the UNCCD, Iran developed a National Action Plan to Combat Desertification (NAP), which outlined the short, medium and long term programmes.

This took desertification planning away from a case-by-case analysis to a province wide and national approach to the problem.

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