The United Nations has announced 2020 – 2030 as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, leading the global community of practitioners, policymakers, investors and businesses towards cooperation for impact at scale. Healthy soils lie at the very foundation of healthy ecosystems – a key factor in mitigating risks of climate change, an essential resource for protecting farmers’ livelihoods, whilst safeguarding the environment and food security. We know that the impact of agricultural activities on soil and land health is neither immediate nor easily visible. Equally, we know that if not addressed at the right time, this very gradual and continuous degradation will not only become highly difficult to rectify via restoration efforts, but also extremely cost-intensive.
And so, as the very base of the living ecosystem, healthy soils are intrinsically linked to thriving production landscapes. Working on enhancing soil health and reversing degradation, paves the path for a more climate-resilient agricultural system, and contributing to more stable income levels from agriculture over a period of time.
But we need to do more. A report published in 2019 by Dr Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and founding Director of the Carbon Management & Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University (OSU), tells us that the current conditions of soil quality need to be addressed without delay. To safeguard this natural capital, awareness of the best practices, and the right incentives that promote them, need to be built within the communities and producers, given that they are truly most impacted by its degradation – directly and disproportionately.
And to take this to scale – to fully evolve agricultural and soil management practices towards these outcomes – we need to adopt an ecosystem approach to ensure that sustainability and equity are at the heart of value-chains, markets, public and private financing and governance