How to halt the global decline of lands

Land degradation is the persistent reduction in the capacity of the land to support human and other life on Earth1. Human dominance of land and its natural resources has vastly increased over the past century and has substantially altered natural ecological processes on three-quarters of the Earth’s land surface2. That domination of the biosphere has contributed to increased human welfare, but the downside to humans and the environment is increasingly apparent. In every terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem type, to varying degrees, unsustainable land use and overexploitation of natural resources have impaired ecological function, capacity to supply ecosystem services, and the ability to support biodiversity1. Populations of wild species have decreased and extinctions are occurring much more frequently than the rate at which new species naturally evolve3. Land degradation has negatively affected the living conditions of at least two-fifths of the people on Earth and it is estimated to be reducing global economic output by a tenth4. Vulnerable groups, indigenous and marginalized communities are disproportionately and negatively impacted, especially in terms of water supply and quality, health, and disaster vulnerability.