By Anastasia Moloney
Land degradation could force hundreds of millions of people to migrate in the coming decades
BOGOTA, March 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Billions of people live on farmland that is deteriorating and producing less food, and this situation could force hundreds of millions of people to migrate over the next three decades, a major report said on Monday.
The study, which is backed by the United Nations, said climate change and worsening land quality could see crop yields halve in some regions by 2050, and warned that larger tracts of degraded land meant conflict over resources was more likely.
"Decreasing land productivity also makes societies more vulnerable to social instability – particularly in dryland areas, where years with extremely low rainfall have been associated with an increase of up to 45 percent in violent conflict," said Robert Scholes, the report's co-author.
The report was written by more than 100 experts from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a global scientific group.
The body said that as degraded land becomes less productive - through deforestation, overgrazing, flash floods or drought - people, many of them poor farmers, are forced to migrate to cities or abroad.
And, it warned, when arid, semi-dry or dryland areas degrade further, deserts spread - which means lower crop yields.
"In just over three decades from now, an estimated 4 billion people will live in drylands," Scholes said in a statement.
"By then it is likely that land degradation, together with the closely related problems of climate change, will have forced 50-700 million people to migrate," he said
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News