Global Challenges
Issue no. 6 | November 2019
Endangered Earth
Global Challenges
Issue no. 6 | November 2019
Endangered Earth | Figure for Article 1

The Ground beneath Our Feet: Food, Agriculture and Climate Change

Box | Breakdown of the Global, Ice-Free Land Surface (130 million km2)

72% of land directly affected by human use: 

  • 37% of pastures, of which 16% are used savannahs and shrublands, 19% extensive pastures and 2% intensive pastures (since 1961, the number of people living in areas affected by desertification almost tripled).
  • 22% of forests, of which 20% are managed for timber and other uses and 2% are planted
  • 12% of cropland, of which 10% are non-irrigated and 2% irrigated (since 1961, the use of fertilisers increased by nearly ninefold and the use of irrigation water doubled.
  • 1% of settlements and infrastructure

28% of unused land:

  • 9% of intact or primary forests
  • 7% of unforested ecosystems, including grasslands and wetlands (since 1970, wetland areas have declined by 30%).
  • 12% of barren wilderness, rocks, etc.

Source: IPCC, Climate Change and Land, August 2019.