The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its Status of the World’s Soil Resources report on December 4, 2015 during the International Year of Soils. The report is meant to be the first ever global assessment of soils and soil change.
As stated in the Foreword, “soils are the foundation of food production and food security, supplying plants with nutrients, water, and support for their roots. Soils function as Earth’s largest water filter and storage tank; they contain more carbon than all above-ground vegetation, hence regulating emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; and they host a tremendous diversity of organisms of key importance to ecosystem processes.”
The majority of the world’s soil resources are in fair, poor, or very poor condition. Thirty-three percent of land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, and chemical pollution of soils. Further loss of productive soils would severely damage food production and food security, amplify food-price volatility, and potentially plunge millions of people into hunger and poverty. However, the report offers evidence that the loss and degradation of soil resources and functions can be mitigated. Sustainable soil management can increase nutritious food supply, providing a valuable tool for climate regulation and the safeguarding of ecosystem services.
Read the report to learn more about the state of this critical, but often overlooked, resource.
For information on food production and climate change, read RNRF’s 2015 congress report.