Warning: a sixth mass species extinction is on the cards

Land degradation threatens biodiversity, ecosystem services and the well-being of at least 3 billion people

Photo by Pxhere
19 April 2019
Landscape News Editor

When an entrepreneur designs, makes and markets handbags made of donkey skin, and they become hugely popular, that’s good for business and employment, right? But if the donkey leather is sourced from developing countries with weak environmental laws, what is the socio-economic and environmental impact?

The unsustainable extraction of a resource, whether it’s donkeys, plants, trees or minerals, can have adverse effects on the environment and communities in distant lands. In the case of donkeys, a valuable mode of all-weather, carbon neutral transport is removed from those most in need of transport in remote rural settings.

This is one of the points highlighted in a new report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012. UN Environment is an accredited observer and hosts the platform’s secretariat.

“Currently, degradation of the Earth’s land surface through human activities is negatively impacting the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people, pushing the planet towards a sixth mass species extinction, and costing more than 10 per cent of the annual global gross product in loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services,” says the platform’s Assessment report on land degradation and restoration.

Combating land degradation 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, it says.

“The recently announced UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by UN Environment and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, will drive more coherent action restoration on farmland, forests, rivers, lakes and seas globally,” says Tim Christophersen, head of UN Environment’s Freshwater, Land and Climate Branch, and Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration.

Continue reading the full story on UN Environment.

Further resources:

The assessment report on land degradation and restoration (IPBES)

The ecology and economics of restoration: when, what, where, and how to restore ecosystems

The Restoration Initiative (TRI): Scaling up support for forest landscape restoration

Restoring forests and landscapes: The key to a sustainable future (The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration)

UN elevates action on ecosystem restoration – IUCN is ready

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