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Developing Countries: Land

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of those regions which will be worst affected by land degradation between 2008 and 2015; and if he will make a statement. (218027)

The Department for International Development (DFID) does not undertake its own assessment of regions that will be worst affected by land degradation. However, we work closely with organisations, funded by DFID, that have expert capacity in this area (such as the International Institute for Environment and Development). We also draw on recent international assessments; for example, the Food and Agricultural Organisation's Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Improvement (GLADA) that was released on 2 July. Based on quantitative analysis, and use of satellite imagery, this identifies southern Africa, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and south China as areas particularly affected by degradation. 1.5 billion people depend on degrading areas for their livelihoods. The 2007 United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environmental Outlook 4 (GEO-4) included an assessment of land degradation and concluded that demands on land resources and risks to sustainability are likely to intensify.

Better land management can prevent and reverse degradation leading to improved agricultural production and availability of other resources such as forest products. The recent GLADA provides positive examples of land improvement such as land reclamation in north China. DFID has worked with the World Bank in its projects to better manage land and reduce poverty in the degraded and remote Loess Plateau region of north China. The World Bank funded improved land use and erosion control, boosting incomes for farmers, with DFID assistance focused on improved benefits for the poorest.