Evaluation at FAO

Learning from FAO projects on land and soils

 © FAO:Eduardo Soteras

Soil, the thin layer that covers the Earth's land surface, is often taken for granted, yet it is a vital resource that underpins global food security, environmental sustainability, and human well-being. Soil plays an indispensable role in achieving this goal by providing the physical anchor and nutrient-rich environment for plant growth. Without healthy soils, crops cannot thrive, leading to reduced agricultural productivity and food shortages. FAO estimates that nearly one-third of the world's soils are degraded, posing a serious threat to food security for millions of people.

Beyond its role in food production, soil also plays a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem health and mitigating climate change. Soil acts as a natural carbon sink, storing vast amounts of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Additionally, soil erosion and degradation can lead to desertification, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity, further exacerbating environmental challenges.

Soil health is inextricably linked to human health. Soil provides essential nutrients for crops, which in turn nourish humans. Degraded soils often produce nutrient-deficient crops, leading to malnutrition and health problems, particularly in vulnerable populations. Moreover, soil contamination from pesticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants can pose serious health risks.