07/12/2019 Bangkok, Thailand The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Royal Thai Government today reaffirmed their close partnership to prevent the global acceleration of soil erosion, which threatens food security worldwide.
Soil erosion is major threat to global agriculture and food production. If action isn’t taken to stop the present rate of soil erosion, more than 90 percent of the world’s soil could be degraded by 2050.
Soil erosion refers to the removal of topsoil by water, wind or unsustainable agricultural activities such as intensive tillage. Some soil erosion is natural, occurring under all climatic conditions on all continents. But much of it is driven by unsustainable human activities – such as overgrazing, intensive agriculture and deforestation – that can increase the rate of soil erosion by up to 1 000 times.
“Every five seconds, somewhere in the world, an area the size of a football pitch is eroded,” said Jong-Jin Kim, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Since it can take a thousand years for nature to create just a few centimeters of top soil, once we lose it, we won’t see it again in our lifetime.”
Kim made the remarks during an event in Thailand to mark World Soil Day, and to recognize the important partnership between FAO and the Royal Thai Government in working together to protect soil and raise awareness about its importance.
Thailand’s leading role in soil conservation
World Soil Day has been observed annually since 2014 on 5 December, in recognition of the birthday of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The late king was a renowned soil scientist. In more recent years, Thailand has launched an annual World Soil Day Award and established a Center of Excellence for Soil Research in Asia.
Soil captures, stores and filters water – so when soil erodes, less water can move through it. Without soil, the quality of drinking water in lowland areas may decrease, as the water was never adequately filtered through soil upstream. Additionally, with less soil to absorb a heavy rainfall, floods may become more frequent and intense.
When soil is not held together by plant roots, it can be easily moved by wind or water. As a result, loose and eroding soil can make floods, landslides and windstorms more severe. These natural disasters not only devastate farms, but can also harm urban infrastructure that provides vital services to city dwellers.
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