Rapid increase in the human population has exerted unprecedented pressure on the earth’s natural capital. Records shows that the world population by 2015 was 7.3 billion up from 5.3 billion in 1993. It is projected that by 2050 the world population will be 9.7 billion. In the quest to provide food, shelter and socioeconomic development, agriculture has been intensified as well as expanded. Virgin lands have been converted to settlement, roads, industrial or commercial and agricultural space. In most cases, this happens with less emphasis on protecting the environment, resulting to land degradation. Land degradation has occurred on about a third of global land area resulting in substantial economic impacts on agricultural livelihoods and national economies especially in developing lower-income countries. When land is degraded, it cannot support all the processes that depend on it. Some irrigated lands, for example, have become heavily damaged from salt. Every year, this salinization causes the loss of some 1.5 million ha of arable land and an estimated US$11 billion in production loss.
Although efforts have been directed towards establishing the drivers of degradation, its only until recently that an accurate and robust tool developed by Conservation International and partners that have enabled experts and policy makers to map degraded area. It is generally agreed that with scare resources and the desire to reverse degradation, data-driven decisions that are smart must be developed and implemented. This allows relevant partners to allocate resources where it matters the most. With a tool that is cloud based, open source and easy to use, its now possible to tailor interventions that can address land degradation at a finer scale.
What decisions need to be made and by who?
- Establishing the size of land degraded and areas that need resources for restoration/rehabilitation
- Developing innovative solutions to address land degradation and establishing the communities to engage
- Allocating resources where it matters the most and establishing the communities to engage
- Improving agricultural land productivity and establishing the farmers/partners to engage
- Improving land productivity
- Reporting to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
- Advocating for restoration and rehabilitation of degraded land and soliciting for financial support to curb land degradation
How does Trends.Earth come in?
- The tool can be used to map degraded areas identifying the size of land that is degraded, stable or improving
- Assisting in the development of land degradation neutrality (LDN) baselines
- Trends.Earth can assist with setting Land Degradation Neutrality targets
- Through the tool,areas that n eed restoration/rehabilitation actions can be identified
- Monitoring and assessing progress towards achieving project goals eg restoration such as re-afforestation and LDN targets
- Trends.Earth allows analysis of datasets in support of reporting to the UNCCD
- The tool allows one to perform land use land cover change detection checking how the same are transitioning between classes eg forests transitioning to cropland/settlement
For more information, email Tom Kiptenai Kemboi, GIS/Remote Sensing Analyst email@example.com or visit http://trends.earth/docs/en/ Photo credit: ©Conservation International/photo by Tristan Schnader