Increasing stress on a shrinking resource
Did you know that unchecked soil erosion and salinisation tipped many long-gone cultures and civilisations into irreversible decline?
Soils are subject to many threats, affecting their ability to provide ecosystem services. As well as the historic and current threats, soils are also vulnerable to future climate change. Rising temperatures can reduce soil organic matter, weaken soil structure, and increase erodibility. Increased variability and intensity of rainfall, as in more frequent and severe storms, increase its erosivity. Lower annual rainfalls may increase the need for irrigation and the potential risk of soil salinisation.
Many national governments and multilateral organisations appreciate the value and vulnerability of soils. They often have defined soil conservation and protection policies, but such policies may not always be rigorously applied. We are losing productive soils all of the time, and so soil protection policies need vigorous implementation at all scales. As well as the pragmatic, there are non-material incentives to good land husbandry, as soils are esteemed aesthetically and ethically in various faiths, cultures and mythologies.