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The rate of forest loss, particularly in the tropics, remains alarmingly high. The burgeoning population, economic development and global markets are important drivers of change that collectively intensify pressure on land by raising demands for food, livestock feed, energy, and raw materials (Figure 3). Simultaneous growth in demand is causing land-use conversion, land degradation, soil erosion and pressure on protected areas. The need to increase agricultural productivity due, for instance, to population growth, and to compensate for the loss of arable land due to urbanization, infrastructure building and desertification, has to be weighed against potential environmental costs. Land-use decisions often fail to recognize the non-market value of ecosystem services and overlook biophysical limits to productivity, including the additional stress on productive areas caused by climate change. Many interventions intended to protect ecosystems have also failed to engage adequately with indigenous, local communities and the private sector, or to take local values into account. In addition, an integrated approach to conservation and development is not always easily reconciled with local land-use legislation.


The potential to create more sustainable land management systems nevertheless exists. Land policies represent some of the most active areas of policy innovation, including payment for ecosystem services (PES) and integrated place-based management.
For these to be extended, some deficiencies need to
be addressed:



data and monitoring are severely inadequate; and
clear, more tangible internationally agreed goals for land are needed as most of those that exist are imprecise and non-quantifiable

 

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