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Worldwide land degradation is now critical, undermining well-being of 3.2 billion people, says Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment on land degradation and restoration. The experts estimate that by 2050, the land degradation will be the main cause of species loss and driver of the migration of millions of people.

Written by over a hundred experts from 45 countries, including Luke’s Senior Specialist Tiina M. Nieminen, the assessment shows that in addition to environmental damage, the dangers of land degradation are also a major financial threat. Through the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the cost in 2010 was equivalent of about 10% of the world’s annual gross production.

“With negative impacts on the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people, the degradation of the Earth’s land surface through human activities is pushing the planet towards a sixth mass species extinction,” said Prof. Robert Scholes, co-chair of the assessment with Dr. Luca Montanarella.

“Avoiding, reducing and reversing this problem, and restoring degraded land, is an urgent priority to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services vital to all life on Earth and to ensure human well-being.”

Dr. Montarella added: “Wetlands have been particularly hard hit. We have seen losses of 87% in wetland areas since the start of the modern era – with 54% lost since 1900.”

Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment is the first comprehensive, evidence-based assessment report on the topic. It’s based on some 3,000 scientific papers and sources.

Please read the full IPBES media release here.

Further information:
Highlights of Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment
Comments about Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment

Land degradation is a major ecological and economical threat. Photo: Shutterstock.

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