Drylands are home to 2.1 billion people; for every three people, one calls drylands home. Drylands meet the basic needs of a significant proportion of the world, but are under threat. They harbor some of the world's most valuable and rarest biodiversity. They are major contributors to the world's breadbasket, considering that one in every three crops under cultivation today has its origins in the drylands. They are valuable indigenous food vaults because the wild ancestors and relatives of these plants still grow there. Drylands support 50% of the world's livestock, are wildlife habitats and account for nearly half of all cultivated systems.
Basic Drylands Facts
Definition of drylands 1
Drylands are defined by their aridity. They cover four zones:
|Level of Aridity||Dominant ecosystem|
The term drylands generally excludes deserts.
Size of Deserts and Drylands
- 41.2% of the land is deserts and drylands.
- 6.6% is deserts and 34.6% is drylands.
Value of Drylands for Livelihoods
- 2.1 billion people live in the world's deserts and drylands.
- 90% of the population is in developing countries.
- 50% of world's livestock is supported by rangelands.
- 46% of global carbon is stored in drylands.
- 44% of all cultivated land is in drylands.
- 30% of all cultivated plants came form drylands.
Land Degradation and Improvements 2
- 24% of the land, globally, is degrading.
- 20-25% of degrading land is rangeland.
- 20% of degrading land is cropland.
- 1.5 billion people in the world depend on degrading land.
- 16% of degraded land was improved in 1981-2003.
- 43% was in rangelands.
- 18% was cropland.
Impact of Inaction on Land Degradation 3
110 countries at risk of land degradation. 12 million hectares of land, an area the size of Benin, are lost every year. Annual land lost could produce 20 million tons of grain. US$42 billion in income is lost every year from desertification and land degradation.