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Did you know? For your ease of reference

How Brazil, Panama and Costa Rica Breathed New Life Into Their Degraded Lands.

Latin America and the Caribbean are home to some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world. The region holds about half of the world’s tropical forests, and more than 30 percent of its mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians. But despite the region’s ecological importance, more than 200 million hectares (494.2 million acres) of land has been completely deforested or degraded in the past century, an area the size of Mexico.

All hope is not lost. Case studies from WRI’s Restoration Diagnostic show that land restoration in Latin America and the Caribbean has been done before. Successes from Brazil, Panama and Costa Rica offer lessons on how to get degraded land back into productive use.​ Read more from WRI​


Brazil may be the Owner of 20% of the World’s Water Supply but it is still Very Thirsty ​. Follow the World Bank to learn why​


Every second, one person is displaced by disaster,” the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports. “In 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. “Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.” ​More you can find here. Source IPS​



At a glance some preliminary findings of the "FAO Global Drylands

Assessment"

  • ​The global drylands contain 1.11 billion hectares of forest land, which is 27 percent of the global forest area, estimated at approximately 4 billion hectares. Twothirds of the drylands forest area can be defined as being dense, meaning it has closed canopies (i.e. a canopy cover greater than 40 percent).
  • The second most common land use in drylands is grassland (31 percent), followed by forest (18 percent) and cropland (14 percent).
  • The category other lands constitutes 34 percent of the global drylands area.The least arid zones have the most forest. The proportion of ​forest land is 51 percent in the dry subhumid zone, 41 percent in the semiarid zone, 7 percent in the arid zone and 0.5 percent in the hyperarid zone. The average crown cover density is ten times higher in the dry subhumid zone than in the hyperarid zone.
  • Trees outside forests are present on 1.9 billion hectares of drylands (31 percent of the global drylands area), if all land with more than 0 percent crown cover is included.Thirty percent of croplands and grasslands have at least some crown cover, as do 60 percent of lands classified as settlements. Read here​


Why land degradation is our greatest issue today? Statement by Dr. Richard Thomas: "Our efforts for sustainable development, for peace and stability in drylands and beyond must focus more and more on land"

More from Dr. R.Thomas - the Director of CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and Scientific Coordinator of the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative you can find here


On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification 2016, the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems wished to raise awareness about land degradation, an issue demanding global attention as it affects the stability and resilience of natural and human systems everywhere.


To commemorate this day, the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems is launching Desertification: the Invisible Frontier of Land Degradation, Poverty and Migration, an Exposure story to highlight the causes and consequences of land degradation, and the need for inclusive cooperation to halt and reverse this calamity.


Interactive infographic on key facts and figures on Land Degradation and Drylands



Land resources are one of nature’s most precious gifts. They feed us and help our societies and economies to thrive. 

Some 2.5 billion agricultural smallholders worldwide manage around 500 million small farms, providing more than 80 per cent of food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. 


An estimated 33 per cent of soil is moderately to highly​ degraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, salinization, compaction and chemical pollution. Each year we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 15 billion trees, costing the economy around $40 billion.


Land evaluation helps make better decisions about how to use the land, and is therefore essential to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality

(Sustainable Development Goal15.3). An understanding of the longterm land potential is needed to (a) determine where production can be sustainably increased, and (b) identify land that could be restored.​

Read  the new publication "Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools". A Report of the Working Group on Land and Soils of the International Resource Panel.  


Data on environmental migration: How much do we know? The Environmental Migration Portal has been created as part of the "Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP)" project funded by the European Union, a result from the common efforts of UNCCD and IOM. The Environmental Migration Portal: Knowledge Platform on People on the Move in a Changing Climate seeks to provide a one-stop service website to promote new research, information exchange and dialogue, intended to fill the existing data, research and knowledge gaps on the migration-environment nexus.​  Explore the Environmental Migration Portal and  find out more here .


People on degraded land cut off from economic growth. Almost all the world’s 200 million people on remote degraded agricultural land (DAL) were in developing countries, which is about 6% of their rural population. There were also 1.54 billion rural people on improving agricultural land (IAL), with 1.34 billion in developing countries.

Latest research​  found that a lower share of people in 2000 on degraded agricultural land (DAL), or a higher share on  IAL, lowers significantly how much overall economic growth reduces poverty from 2000 to 2012 across 83 developing countries. 

As the population on DAL and IAL in developing countries grew by 13% and 15% respectively from 2000 to 2010, these changing spatial distributions of rural populations could impact significantly future poverty in developing countries.​ Read more here


Cost of Adapting to Climate Change Could Hit $500 Billion per year by 2050 - says UNEP's " Adaptation Finance Gap Report​ 2016. Failure to cut emissions will dramatically increase the annual costs of adaptation, which could be up to five times higher by 2050 than previously thought.​


This week, Food Tank is highlighting 16 organizations and projects that are using agroforestry principles to bring benefits to farmers, communities, and the environment. Agroforestry efforts in Niger, for example, have resulted in 200 million trees being planted on over 5 million hectares of farmland. This has impacted an estimated 2.5 million people by improving soil, increasing yields, and creating resilience against climate change.​ Read more here


A new World Bank report finds that water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could hinder economic growth, spur migration, and spark conflict. However, most countries can neutralize the adverse impacts of water scarcity by taking action to allocate and use water resources more efficiently.​ Climate Driven Water Scarcity Could Hit Economic Growth by Up to 6 Percent in Some Regions, Says World Bank.​ Read more here​


African drylands, which cover 43% of the continent are prone to land degradation and desertification. Trees are vital to rural agricultural livelihoods in drylands.  They provide several ecosystem services including food, fuel, and energy, as well as income generating activities such as bee keeping. See more at: Trees for Land Restoration in Africa's Drylands  CGIAR

​​

Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP, spur migration, and spark conflict. “High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy” the new World Bank report says the combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain. Food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration.


 "Africa’s key food crops threatened"see why? The study: "Timescales of transformational climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan African agriculture published in Nature Climate Change notes that:: While six of the nine crops studied are expected to remain stable under moderate and extreme climate change scenarios, up to 30 per cent of areas growing maize and bananas, and up to 60 per cent of those producing beans are projected to become unviable by the end of the century​. Find our more here​


In 2010, NCAR scientist Aiguo Dai reviewed the state of knowledge on how drought is expected to evolve as Earth’s climate warms.For 2030–39, Dai’s maps show much of the central U.S. experiencing drier soils than in 2000–09. The drought risk expands further in the 2060s, and by the 2090s, most of southern Europe and about half of the United States is gripped by extreme drought.​ Read more here


Despite impact, climate change fails to make news headlines , warns UN Agency. Even as 60 million people around the world face severe hunger because of El Niño and millions more because of climate change, top European and American media outlets are neglecting to cover the issues as a top news item, says a new research report funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today.


The report, The Untold Story: Climate change sinks below the headlines”​ provides an analysis of the depth of media reporting around climate change in two distinct periods: two months before the 21st session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, and two months after. Specifically, it explores whether issues connecting climate change, food security, agriculture and migration made headlines, and if so, how much prominence these stories were given.


Desertification study proposes new decision-making method for complex environmental problems,  like desertification, which also have important social and economic implications, could be improved by employing methods outlined in a new study. The study outlines the steps taken by researchers on behalf of the Canary Islands government in devising a policy strategy for tackling desertification​ and describes a three-step methodology and participatory decision-making process. Source: EC​


Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe and, together with prolonged droughts and fires, is already contributing to an increased risk of desertification.(p.75) from the EEA report "Mapping and assessing the condition of Europe’s ecosystems: progress and challenges’


New on the book market: The Desert: Lands of Lost Borders/Michael Welland. " Deserts may be difficult to define, but they play an active role in the evolution of our global climate and society at large, and their future is of the utmost importance"  Read more here​


A new statistical technique, analysing data records since measuring started 150 years ago, independently confirms that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions have led to global warming, according to a JRC-led article published on 22 February 2016 in Nature Scientific Reports.

 

The hottest year on record, 2015, has confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards, according to a new analysis presented today 11 February 2016. The top five most disaster-hit countries in 2015 were China (26), USA (22), India (19), Philippines (15) and Indonesia (11).

The new analysis and the infographics show that over the last twenty years, 90 per cent of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events.

1995-2015 " demonstrates that since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters. Source: ISDR

 

The New World Atlas on Desertification. Mapping Land degradation and sustainable land management opportunities. (Expected August 2016). Read the introductory brochure with a lot of facts and data.

  • More than 75% of the land is used by humans ( excluding Greenland and Antarctica)
  • 2007 was the first year in human history when most people on Earth live in cities
  • Globally arid areas increased between 1951-1980 and 1980-2010 many of them coinciding with land degradation problems
  • 4 times more land and 10 times more water is needed to produce 1kg of protein from beef than from pulses. 


The land and water footprints of everyday products. Mind your step
The report explores the environmental footprints of everyday products, using a footprinting approach to measure the amount of land and water needed across the product’s supply chain.The results reveal the intensive resource demands of some products: a single smart phone for example requires 18m2of land and nearly 13,000 litres (13 tonnes) of water. Learn more from the report

 

Mapping Land Degradation and Sustainable Land Management Opportunities”  The new World Atlas of Desertification builds on recent scientific advancements, and aims to be a pragmatic exercise and example of the implementation of up-to-date concepts of land degradation.
An introductory brochure can be downloaded and provides a short overview on the concept, issues and processes that can lead to land degradation and some local examples that reflect global patterns. For more information. Source: JRC-EC

 

Land Mark , the first online, interactive global platform to provide maps and other critical information on lands that are held and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities.

The platform aims to raise awareness, engage audiences, and help these people protect their land rights. Shining a light on indigenous and community land reduces the likelihood that irregular acquisitions and expropriations go unnoticed, and helps protect the livelihoods and well-being of billions of rural people.
• LandMark shows that 78.9 percent of Africa’s land mass is held by Indigenous Peoples and communities under customary tenure.
• About 21 percent is formally recognized, while the remaining 57.9 percent is not.
• For example, in Australia, LandMark shows that formally recognized aboriginal land rights cover 32.5 percent of the national land mass, while pending land claims cover an additional 41.6 percent.
• LandMark also shows that the tenure laws in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are stronger than those in some developed nations. 

While strong legislation alone will not secure tenure, weak legal protection is a central reason why Indigenous Peoples and communities are losing their land and sometimes their lives. You can explore the LandMark interactive map here.   Source: WRI
 

Facts and figures about the link between soil carbon and climate change. The atmosphere constantly exchanges carbon with the biosphere. 

  • ​Globally, soils capture (via organic matter inputs from plants) more CO2 than they release (via microorganisms), thus generating a potential carbon sink of about 1-3 Gigatonnes (Gt) per year, which contributes significantly to mitigating global warming and hence global climate change.
  • At the global scale, soils store more than double the carbon (2,529 Gt) of the combined total of atmosphere (830 Gt) and biomass (576 Gt)
  • Land use is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Soils of the world’s agroecosystems (croplands, grazing lands, rangelands) have lost 25–75% of their original soil organic carbon pool, depending on climate, soil type, and historic management8, amounting to 42 to 78 Gt of carbon, of which 18 to 28 Gt were lost through desertification.

This loss provides an opportunity: The recoverable carbon reserve capacity of the world’s agricultural and degraded soils is estimated to be between 21 to 51 Gt of carbon. Read more in UNCCD Science- Policy brief

 

Facts and figures about the link between soil carbon and biodiversity.

Human activities, especially the conversion and degradation of natural habitats, are causing global biodiversity declines with accelerated species losses on the scale of the five mass extinctions in the geological record.

  • Across the globe, average species richness has declined since 1500 by 13.6% and total abundance by 10.7%, while the worst affected habitats have experienced reductions of 76.5% in species richness and 39.5% in total abundance. 
  • Drylands are home to an estimated 10,000 mammals, amphibian and avian species, and account for over a third of the global biodiversity hotspots (where a significant reservoir of biodiversity is under threat) and a third of all Endemic Bird Areas. „„
  • Drylands are the original genetic source of numerous livestock breeds and over 30% of the world’s cultivated plants, including a number of unique, high value medicinal plants and gums.
  • Dryland ecosystems have plant diversity which in some cases is higher than more humid biomes, and are also characterized by highly diverse soil microbial communities.
  • This biodiversity is fundamental to vital ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling and the production of soil organic matter, which is essential to both productivity and carbon sequestration.

Above-ground plant diversity leads to a diversity of carbon inputs below ground,and that heterogeneity in the soil subsequently supports below ground biodiversity.

Plant diversity in drylands has been found to be positively correlated with the ability of dryland ecosystems to maintain multiple functions and services simultaneously, or their multifunctionality. Read more in UNCCD Science- Policy brief.


​A future focused on a shift to sustainability will see the greatest increase in ecosystem service values and GDP. ​

  • Land cover changes since year 2000 are responsible for half to 75% of the lost ecosystem services value;
  • The value of lost ecosystem services due to land degradation averages US $43,400 to $72,000 per square km, some US $870 to $1,450 per person, globally each year;
  • Agricultural investments of US $30 billion per year are needed to feed the world's growing population;
  • The percentage of Earth's land stricken by serious drought doubled from the 1970s to the early 2000s;
  • One third of the world is vulnerable to land degradation; one third of Africa is threatened by desertification;

See more at:   ELD " The value of Land" and CGIAR Dryland Systems

 

Links between environmental changes and migration are extremely complex. This EC Science for environment policy thematic issue presents key pieces of research examining the causes of environmental migration and identifying policy options for Europe in dealing with forced and voluntary relocations. The sources also examine the current state of human rights for environmental migrants and how much evidence currently exists for action at local and regional levels

 

What is Grey Literature? Grey literature is defined as ‘that which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers.’Examples include technical reports from governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies or research groups, working papers from research groups or preprints, thesis/dissertations and conference papers.​ A list of most useful tools you can find following the left side collection on the page here​.

 

The Lexicon of Food is a new online encyclopaedia that unmasks the true meaning of sustainable food, term by term. It encourages us to learn about who makes our food, what’s in it and how it reaches our plate, so we can all take part in transforming the food system. Arranged alphabetically, the website has a detailed list of terms and themes​ often used in conversations about food sustainability.​

 

Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990, according to FAO's most comprehensive forest review to date, The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015

 

FAO has estimated that total carbon emissions from forests decreased by more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2015, mainly due to a slowdown in global deforestation rates.

 

Food Tank has compiled a list of indigenous fruits, vegetables, and grains from many regions that are nutritious, delicious, and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in rural communities across the globe.The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s plant genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is expected to disappear by 2050. Up to 100,000 plant varieties are currently endangered worldwide.

 

Ranking the World's Most Water-Stressed Countries in 2040.  Fourteen of the 33 most likely water-stressed countries in 2040 will be in the Middle East. Find out more how changing water supply and demand will affect countries in the future using WRI's projections.

 

Wind erosion risk mapped in first ever pan-European assessment. Over 8% of land in Europe could be at moderate-to-high risk of wind-driven soil erosion, a new study has estimated. In the first assessment of its kind, the researchers produced maps which show wind erosion risk across 36 countries. This information could help guide actions to tackle land degradation.Science for Environment Policy/ European Commission

 

Decline in bees and wasps linked to land-use changes. The declining number of bee and wasp species in England has been linked to historic changes in land use in a recent study. Researchers say that policies which promote diverse landscapes offer more opportunities for bees and wasps to nest and forage and are best for conserving these insect pollinators.
(Science for Environment Policy/ European Commission)

 

The case for solar water pumps. The cost of solar technology has come down, way down, making it is a viable way to expand access to energy for hundreds of millions of people living in energy poverty. For farmers in developing countries, the growing availability of solar water pumps offers a viable alternative to system dependent on fossil fuel or grid electricity.(World Bank)

 

Public perceptions of environmental risk: the role of journalists . Science not communicated is said to be science not done, but journalists' portrayal of scientific findings can sometimes have a negative impact on public perceptions of science and even create false controversy. This study examined how presenting opposing scientific viewpoints affects public perceptions of environmental risk. ( Science for Env.Policy.EC DG Environment News Alert)

 

How much land area does it take to support your lifestyle? Take this quiz to find out your Ecological Footprint, discover your biggest areas of resource consumption, and learn what you can do to tread more lightly on the earth.

 

Do you know your land footprint? Every product comes from the land in one way or another. This consumption of land is often called “virtual land” because it is not visible in the final product, even though a lot of resources are used in the production. Project REdUSE calculated the land footprint of many products. The land footprint of one bicycle is 3.4m2. The land footprint of 1 kg of beef is 22m2. Check out the infographic here

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) footprint calculator, which assesses the footprint for food, home, personal stuff (like appliances and gadgets) and travel choices.  Check  the WWF Footprint calculator

 

Gender and land rights database.The land-related statistics are disaggregated by gender and include specific data on land and agricultural ownership by men and women. The data is shown in the interactive map,​list of statistics indicators and their definitions .

 

New Global Donor Database and map on land programmes. The database includes an initial 445 programmes with a combined worth of US$2.8 billion. The purpose of the database is to improve understanding of who is doing what and where in the land and resource governance sector and to improve coordination.(Global Donor Group on Land).

 

The rewards of investing in sustainable land management. Economics of land degradation initiative: A global strategy for SLM.

 

What is the relationship among land, water and people? Practically everyone on earth lives on land, and we all rely on water without exception

 

Where do we target investments? What technologies can increase yield and improve sustainability? How can we tailor solutions to best address needs of local farmers? What is the AgriTech Toolbox? The AgriTech Toolbox enables researchers and policymakers to examine how alternative agricultural practices and technologies can impact farm yields, food prices, natural resource use, hunger, malnutrition, land use and global trade in 2050, when climate change impacts may be severe. As a result, it can inform the right mix of policies and investments needed. AgriTech Toolbox can address the current knowledge gap agriculture faces.

 

Soil threats and soil degradation in Europe. RECARE Preventing and remediating degradation of soils in Europe through Land Care.

 

Sustainable food production: Facts and Figures. Soil damage, climate change, water and energy availability are all challenges for farming.

 

Big Facts on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Big Facts is a resource of the most up-to-date and robust facts relevant to the nexus of climate change, agriculture and food security. It is intended to provide a credible and reliable platform for fact checking amid the range of claims that appear in reports, advocacy materials and other sources.

 

AfSoilGrids250m In Africa, significant amounts of soil nutrients are lost every year due to inappropriate or unsustainable soil management practices. The Montpellier Panel has estimated that the economic loss in Africa due to poverty, climate change, population pressures and inadequate farming techniques is about 68 billion USD per year.

 

The Global Calculator The Global Calculator is a free and interactive tool that helps you to understand the link between our lifestyles, the energy we use, and the consequences for our climate.

 

IRENA is pleased to announce the launch of its online knowledge platform - REsource! - Online Knowledge Platform REsource

UNFCCC Secretariat Launches Portal for Countries to Submit Climate Action Plans before Paris ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 

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