A map of global soil degradation

Last year I ran a soil week on the blog, with a whole week of posts about soil, how it’s lost and how it can be protected. I had far more material than I could use, as it happens – or at least more than I could publish without boring you all completely. So I saved a few things for later. (If you missed it, I made a one-off magazine on soil with all the content from that week, and you can download that here.)

Soil health is one of the least recognised environmental issues, but it’s a serious one. 30% of the world’s land has already been affected by soil degradation of one kind or another – erosion, compacting, pollution, etc. This reduces the land’s productivity, lowers its ability to sequester carbon, and costs us an estimated $300 billion (pdf). It’s hard to think of many things that cost us so much that are so easily forgotten.

Here’s a map of the world’s degraded soils:


That’s bad news. The good news is that degraded soil can be restored, and I’ve mentioned many different projects in the past that could play a role, from precision farming to restorative energy systems using grass or cactus, to marine farming, to the Great Green Wall, or the regreening of Ethiopia.


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