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Scientists to publish first-ever land health report

No icon Environment health

Health Desk: 27 March 2018: Scientists will publish the first-ever analysis of the global state of land and its ability to sustain a fast-growing human population that relies on it for 95 percent of all food on Monday.

The diagnosis is likely to be dire, providing a comprehensive overview of what other reports have already warned: unsustainable farming, mining, factory production, and climate change is pushing Earth to a breaking point, leading to human conflict and mass human migration.

"Land degradation... affects many parts of the world and it affects many people in the world today," Robert Watson, chairman of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), told AFP.

"It has adverse effects on things such as food production, such as quality of water, livelihoods are affected by land degradation, people often have to migrate as lands degrade," he said ahead of the report's release in Medellin, Colombia.

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, 95 percent of human food comes directly or indirectly from Earth's soil.

"With a global population that is projected to exceed nine billion by 2050, compounded by competition for land and water resources and the impact of climate change, our current and future food security hinges on our ability to increase yields and food quality using the soils that are already under production today," it said in a 2015 report.

- 'We can act' -

IPBES executive secretary Anne Larigauderie told AFP the report was compiled at the request of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

On Friday, the 129-member IPBES brought out four mammoth reports on the state of plant and animal species in all the world apart from Antarctica and the open oceans.

They concluded biodiversity was in decline in all regions and warned human well-being was at risk as a result.

The land report, which cost about $1 million (810,000 euros) to prepare, was approved by government envoys at an IPBES meeting in Medellin this week.

"One of our goals will be to underline the fact that we can act, and that governments have a series of tools at their disposal to have an impact," said Larigauderie.