UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)

By 2030, if there are no changes in the way land is managed, more than 20 per cent of global habitats such as forests, peat lands and grasslands in developing countries alone could be converted to cropland thus aggravating losses of vital ecosystem.

The revelation comes from the United Nations Environment Programme’s Year Book 2012, which was launched four months prior to the Rio+20 Summit to be held in Brazil.

The book highlights assessments indicating that some kinds of predictable and intensive agriculture are triggering soil erosion rates 100 times greater than the rates at which nature can form soil and this could trigger climate change.

Since the 19th century, an estimated 60 per cent of the carbon stored in soils and vegetation has been lost as a result of land use changes such as clearing land for agriculture and construction.

Pictures from NEMA 2009 Uganda Atlas show desertification in Nakasongola and Nakaseke districts while bare hills and soil erosion are evident in the highlands of Rakai.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said nations need to consider delivering a sustainable 21st century and urgently improving management of the world’s soils as well as decommissioning nuclear power reactors in other parts of the world.

“The soil on the earth’s surface is often one of the forgotten ecosystems yet it’s the most important for survival,” Mr Steiner said.

By Flavia Lanyero, Daily Monitor

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