Windhoek Land degradation occurs in almost all terrestrial biomes and agro-ecologies, in both low and high-income countries. Namibia is no exception and the country is to spend a staggering N$30 billion in real terms over the next 20 years in a drastic effort to restore its rangelands and alleviate bush encroachment. Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa says only drastic intervention can turn the situation around and the need for mitigating actions is critical. Restoring rangelands, with the resultant abundance of perennial grasses, is furthermore an important way to mitigate the impacts of drought, he notes. On the heels of his stern warning, authors Ephraim Nkonya, Alisher Mirzabaev and Joachim von Braun in their just published book “Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement – A Global Assessment for Sustainable Development,” say the impact is especially severe on the livelihoods of the poor, who heavily depend on natural resources. Mutorwa observes: “The lives and livelihoods of many people throughout Namibia are threatened by land degradation. Rangeland is a sustainable natural resource that sustains the majority of our farming communities. But rangelands are deteriorating in all parts of Namibia. This leads to the loss of our perennial grasses, bush encroachment and a less productive, poorer quality, riskier and more disease and drought prone livestock industry. This affects food security as well as food sovereignty. Restoring our rangelands to their production potential is a vital part of ensuring Namibia’s long term success.” Despite the severe impact of land degradation on the poor and the crucial role that land plays in human welfare and development, investments in sustainable land management (SLM) are low, especially in developing countries. The new book summarises the results from global and regional levels as well as 12 case study countries. A chapter also draws conclusions and implications for taking action against land degradation. Land degradation stretches to about 30% of the total global land area and about three billion people reside in degraded lands. The annual global cost of land degradation due to land use/cover change (LUCC) and using land degrading management practices on static cropland and grazing land is about 300 billion USD (some N$4.80 trillion). Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the largest share (22 %) of the total global cost of land degradation. Only about 46 % of the cost of land degradation due to LUCC – which accounts for 78 % of the US$300 billion loss – is borne by land users and the remaining share (54%) is borne by consumers of ecosystem services off the farm. This further illustrates that land degradation is a global problem even though its impact is much greater on poor land users. The cost of taking action against land degradation is much lower than the cost of inaction and the returns in taking action are high. On average, a one US dollar investment in the restoration of degraded land returns five US dollars. This provides a strong incentive for taking action against land degradation. The study shows that simultaneously enhancing local and national level governments, land tenure security and improving market access is the most effective strategy for addressing land degradation. Given that LUCC accounts for the largest share of cost of land degradation, there is a need for developing land use planning that will ensure that forests and other high value biomes are effectively protected. Empirical evidence has shown that the involvement of local communities in managing forests and other high value biomes, and creating mechanisms for them to directly benefit from their conservation efforts, lead to more effective protection, than is the case with centralized protection. The assessment in this volume is being conducted at a time when there is an elevated interest in private land investments and when global efforts to achieve sustainable development objectives have intensified. The book will contribute significantly to the ongoing policy debate, efforts to design strategies for achieving sustainable development goals, and other efforts to address land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. The authors conclude by saying the keywords to the economics of land degradation and improvement are sustainable land management, cost of action and ecosystem services.
New Era Reporter
2016-03-17 10:02:21 3 years ago