Productive land is one of the world’s most valuable natural assets in banishing extreme poverty and creating shared prosperity. Yet land degradation—which leads to desertification and robs soil fertility—is steadily marching across large tracts of the globe, especially in Africa. This is now one of the most important environment and development issues of our time.
Today, drylands cover about 34 percent of the earth’s surface, and land degradation is reaching far beyond drylands. Recent estimates show that every year, 24 billion tons of fertile soils are lost through erosion alone. Between 1981 and 2003, 78 percent of all land degradation was occurring outside drylands.
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