粮农组织主页 > 土地与水资源 > 土地 > Land assessment & impacts

Land assessment and impacts

FAO assists member countries in assessing the physical, socio-economic, institutional and legal potential and constraints on land use, with the aim of achieving the optimal and sustainable use of land resources and empowering people to make informed decisions on the allocation of those resources. 

FAO advises and helps build capacity in governments and other development partners in the formulation and implementation of appropriate land-use and sustainable land management (SLM) policies, strategies, programmes, tools, technologies and best practices.

FAO promotes a holistic, participatory and negotiated approach to land-use planning and development, including the integration of legal property rights and gender equity in land-use allocation.

FAO implement projects with the involvement of its technical divisions and decentralized officers in regional, subregional and country offices to assess land, natural resources and land degradation and to manage knowledge on SLM. FAO facilitates the compilation and harmonization of knowledge on SLM and produces and disseminates targeted SLM tools and approaches for capacity development, scaling up and mainstreaming, increasing the cost-effectiveness of such products and avoiding duplication.

Under FAO’s Strategic Objective 2, major areas of work are being developed with a view to enhancing resource-use efficiency, optimizing the use of inputs, sustaining the full range of ecosystem functions (e.g. the provisioning of food, fibre and energy; soil health; water quality; cultural values; and biodiversity conservation) and enhancing climate change adaptation and mitigation. Among other things, these areas of work will: 

  • develop methods for assessing and enhancing the range of ecosystem services that contribute to production systems, including through valuations of biodiversity and environmental and human/societal benefits; 
  • support capacity development and build on local knowledge systems for restoring and managing ecosystem services, including productivity, biodiversity and resilience to climate change, through pilot testing, demonstration and the dissemination of integrated planning and implementation measures; and 
  • support multistakeholder dialogues on ecological intensification and agro-ecological approaches.

Land degradation and agriculture

An estimated 52 percent of the land used for agriculture worldwide is moderately or severely degraded, and nearly 2 billion hectares – an area twice the size of China – is seriously degraded, sometimes irreversibly.  Land degradation reduces productivity and food security, disrupts vital ecosystem functions, negatively affects biodiversity and water resources, and increases carbon emissions and vulnerability to climate change. Studies indicate that land degradation directly affects 1.5 billion people worldwide, with a disproportionate impact on women, children and the poor, and it reduced the productivity of the world’s terrestrial surface by about 25 percent between 1981 and 2003.  Nevertheless, economic data on land degradation is seriously lacking. 

The Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA) project cited a 1992 estimate of the annual global cost of land degradation at US$40 billion , although this does not include the hidden costs of degradation, such as the need for more external inputs when cultivating degraded lands and the loss of ecosystem services essential for food production, water quality and regulating the global carbon cycle. The global reduction of soil services resulting from improper management has been estimated to exceed US$1 trillion per year.  A 2008 review by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) noted that the financial consequences of reducing soil services vary according to the dependence of local economies on ecosystem services ; a remote sensing review estimated a financial loss of US$48 billion alone in the period 1981–2003 due to the reduced fixation of atmospheric carbon in soils as a result of degradation and reduced productivity.