In Europe an area about the size of Berlin is taken up each year for housing or infrastructure.
Photo: Bilderbox.com

23.08.2013

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We are continuously transforming a resource that is both essential and finite: our soils. We do so in a way that has serious social, economic and ecologic implications. There is an urgent need to shift these transformations to more sustainable pathways. Transgovernance can assume a pivotal role in this regard.

Soils are an essential resource. We produce more than 95 per cent of our food on them, and soils have important water buffering and cleaning functions. They store about 4,000 billion tons of carbon that is roughly ten times more than what the world’s forests accomplish. Soils are not only essential but also increasingly scarce. The global available arable land per capita was cut by half from 1962 to 2008. In the Anthropocene, humankind has become a quasi-geological force. Due to human activities, it is difficult to find any natural soils without any human influence. Nitrogen input through rainfall is only one example. Given slow soil formation rates, soils are a finite resource in human terms. We are losing about 24 billion tons of this finite resource on agricultural lands per year because of wind or water erosion.

Land and soil degradation does not affect drylands only. In Europe, an area of about the size of Berlin is taken each year by the construction of housing or infrastructure.

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