Global Soil Partnership

  • awareness raising
  • soil biodiversity
  • capacity development
  • soil information and data
  • soil erosion
  • soil fertility
  • soil governance
  • soil pollution
  • soil salinity
  • soil organic carbon

Soil erosion

Soil erosion

Soil erosion

Soil erosion, drivers and impacts

Soil erosion is one of the ten major soil threats, identified in the Status of the World's Soil Resources Report . It is defined as the accelerated removal of topsoil from the land surface through water, wind and tillage.

Soil erosion occurs naturally under all climatic conditions and on all continents, but it is significantly increased and accelerated by unsustainable human activities through intensive agriculture, deforestation, overgrazing and improper land use changes.

Soil erosion rates are much higher than soil formation rates, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan.

Soil erosion affects soil health and productivity by removing the highly fertile topsoil and exposing the remaining soil. It decreases agricultural productivity, degrades ecosystem functions, amplifies hydrogeological risk such as landslides or floods, causes significant losses in biodiversity, damage to urban infrastructure and, in severe cases, leads to displacement of human populations. Soil erosion can affect the infiltration, storage and drainage of water in the soil, resulting in waterlogging and water scarcity. Although soil erosion has a direct impact on farmers, it also has effects outside of agriculture. It has implications for our environment and health including on water quality, the energy sector, urban infrastructure, and our landscapes.

In agriculture, soil erosion can be reduced through the implementation of sustainable management practices such as keeping the soil surface always vegetated, or the use of cover crops. It can also be prevented by limiting tillage, or by building terraces. Policy-makers, by integrating these practices into effective policies, can help fostering their implementation on the ground. They can be supported by scientists, who continuously contribute to improve knowledge, and create innovative solutions and technologies to assess, control and prevent soil erosion. But everyone can play a role! By raising awareness or by planting vegetation to protect the soil, in gardens or in scarcely vegetated areas, soil erosion can be extensively reduced.

Latest stories

Let's #StopSoilErosion to ensure a food secure future


One of the key ingredients to a #ZeroHunger future is the soil beneath our feet. Although it may not look like much, soil is full of water, nutrients and microorganisms that are vital for growing our food.

gsoc17 Implementation

Save Our Soils: Finding ways to stop erosion


Wind, rain and industrial farming techniques accelerates soil erosion and can be mitigated before the world faces calamitous losses in terms of agricultural yields and critical ecosystem functions.

In action


Global Symposium on Soil Erosion

15-17 May 2019, FAO headquarters

More than 500 participants from 104 countries, including member states, scientists and practitioners, the agrochemical industry, and civil society attended the meeting.


Implementation plan

Outcome document of the Symposium

The recommendations of the Outcome document support sustainable soil management and land use planning strategies to enhance the prevention, minimization of soil erosion.


Farmers' talks

Video contest on soil erosion

Farmers, NGOs and the civil society have much to say on how to 'Stop soil erosion'. Their short reportages draw attention on the global issue of soil loss and the urgent need for collective efforts.

Communication material

World Soil Day 2019 "Stop soil erosion, Save our future" communication campaign


Selected publications






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