This map layer shows the proportion of soil that was affected by land degradation between 1982 and 2003.
Fertile and healthy soils in the world are not only of vital importance for the production of food and thus for food security. They also serve as a filter for rainwater and thereby produce clean drinking water, store large quantities of carbon and are the habitat for about two-thirds of all species on earth. Against the background of a rapidly growing world population and the accompanying soil sealing as well as the increase of the surface area being used for agriculture, measures to protect the soil at a local and also an international level are gaining in importance. To measure soil degradation, that is to say, the deterioration or even the loss of soil and consequently the loss of biodiversity, qualitatively and quantitatively, researchers from various disciplines have recently been devoting themselves repeatedly to monitoring the degradation.
There are only a few studies on the global extent of soil degradation. The data shown on the map come from analyses of satellite recordings from 1982 to 2003. It should be noted that no direct on-site investigations were carried out and the results should be evaluated accordingly. The results of the study show that 23.4 per cent of the global landmass were affected by degradation, of which just under one-fifth consisted of areas used for agriculture. If we take the extremely long formation and regeneration time of soils into account, this kind of environmental damage must be taken very seriously.