June 16, 2021

UN calls for restoring one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030

In Pakistan, 10 billion trees are to be planted in five years, and efforts are being made to restore wetlands such as the Miani Hor lagoon in Balochistan. In Costa Rica, forest cover has doubled since the 1980s, and the development of ecotourism contributes to the increase in gross domestic product (GDP). In China, the eastern stork returned to Hong Lake after the aquatic vegetation was replenished.

Over the next few years, these initiatives will have to multiply and change scale. On the occasion of the launch of the decade for the restoration of ecosystems (2021-2030), the United Nations calls on the international community to implement its commitments and to restore one billion hectares of degraded land, i.e. an area greater than that of China. Leaders are also urged to take similar decisions in favor of the oceans, say the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a report released Thursday, June 3. . In total, 115 states have already expressed their desire to restore territories, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Central America.

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“Increasing the protection and sustainable management of what remains of our natural landscapes and oceans will not be enough: the degraded ecosystems of the planet and the enormous benefits they provide must also be restored”, explain Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, and Qu Dongyu, Director General of FAO. “Protecting healthy ecosystems and protected areas are vital, but we have caused so much damage that just focusing on conservation is no longer enough,” adds Barnabas Dickson, one of the report’s lead authors. The degradation of ecosystems is the loss of the services they provide. If we want to stop the erosion of biodiversity but also ensure food security or mitigate the effects of climate change, these functions must be restored. “

Eight deeply affected ecosystems

Human populations have left their mark on a very large proportion of the planet – a recent study published on the site Frontiers estimates, for example, that only 3% of the earth’s surface is “Ecologically intact”. In their report, UNEP and FAO focus in particular on eight ecosystems (agricultural land, forests, freshwater, grasslands, shrublands and savannas, mountains, oceans and coastal areas, peatlands, urban areas) on which it is necessary to act as a priority: all have been deeply affected, in particular by changes in land use and overexploitation of resources.

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