Land, Plants, and Soil

Plant coming out of a dry crack of land

FAO has launched the Global Map of Salt-Affected Soils. Most of them can be found in naturally arid or semi-arid environments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The map allows experts to identify where sustainable soil management practices should be adopted to prevent salinization.

salt-affected soil

FAO has launched the Global Map of Salt-Affected Soils, a key tool for halting salinization and boosting productivity. The map estimates that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7% of the planet). Most of them can be found in naturally arid or semi-arid environments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, the map also shows that 20 to 50 percent of irrigated soils in all continents are too salty, meaning over 1.5 billion people worldwide face significant challenges in growing food due to soil degradation.

women in the Amazon

The Colombian Amazon faces a high rate of forest loss. Historically, indigenous women in the Amazon have been profoundly connected to the production of food and the cultivation of medicinal plants. However, men are frequently still the decision makers on land use and management. Guardians of the Amazon is an alliance that involves roughly 2,500 indigenous women in southeast Colombia. Its work is an important step towards strengthening and giving visibility to the role of indigenous women as crucial custodians of the forests in the Colombian Amazon.

people walking among giant trees

This year, 5 June, World Environment Day, marks the official launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year push to halt and reverse the  decline of the natural world. Ecosystems can be large, like a forest, or small, like a pond. Many are crucial to human societies, providing people with water, food, building materials and a host of other essentials. But in recent decades, humanity’s hunger for resources has pushed many ecosystems to the breaking point. Here are the eight main types of ecosystem and some of the things that can be done to revive them.

A man squatting close to the earth holds out earthworms in his hand

Earthworms are our ecosystem’s unsung superheroes

women and youths with hard hats standing among rocks

UNESCO’s Executive Board has approved the designation of eight new UNESCO Global Geoparks, which brings the number of sites participating in the Global Geoparks Network to 169 in 44 countries. UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. The newly designated UNESCO Global Geoparks are in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy and Poland.

forest

The rangers of the Mt. Kenya Trust work tirelessly to protect the area's forests and wildlife from illegal activities such as logging and poaching. Their mission is to protect this incredible ecosystem and educate local communities about the benefits of conserving the forests of Mt. Kenya. Watch this film, shot by Joan Poggio for the United Nations Environment Programme Wild for Life campaign and explore the immersive journey on forests to discover how these precious ecosystems support humans and wildlife every day.

Restoring forests helps build a healthier world for ourselves and for future generations. By replanting and managing forests sustainably, we can help preserve our planet’s biodiversity and combat climate change while fostering economic activity that creates jobs and improves lives. As we enter the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), join us in celebrating the International Day of Forests on 21 March.

Forests and mountains

Find out four things you need to know about forests and health.

Galapagos tortoise.

The Galapagos Islands, off the west coast of Ecuador, are among the most important bastions of nature on our planet. The diversity of life here--hammerhead sharks, Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises among them--prompted Charles Darwin 150 years ago to craft his theory on the origin and evolution of species. Today, we at another crossroads for nature, and indeed for all of humanity. Biodiversity continues to collapse at an alarming rate. But there is hope. UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative is working with the government of the archipelago and Quito’s San Francisco University on a crowdfunding campaign to support local communities. Anyone can send a donation

Experimental cultivation of water lily in the Senegal River delta is one of the RESSOURCE Project flagship initiatives. This engaging nature-friendly activity benefits and involves the local communities, such as rice-farmers, cooperatives of women and restaurant owners.

A man beneath a greenhouse roof holds out two handfuls of soil.

A tribute to our friends underground

FAO reminds us that food is a basic human right. However, 690 million people still suffer from chronic hunger. Our challenge is to ensure the right to food for everyone, everywhere.

Two snowed mountain peaks with rugged and vertical north faces.

Mountains’ unique topography, compressed climatic zones, and isolation have created the conditions for a wide spectrum of life forms. Mountains provide great biodiversity and many endemic varieties of ecosystems, species and genetic resources. Their topography in terms of altitude, slope and exposure offers opportunities to grow a variety of high-value crops, horticulture, livestock and forest species. This year, for International Mountain Day (11 December), FAO focuses in celebrating mountains as the home to half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and addresses the threats they face.

Composite of images of two men.

FAO appoints the popular British gardening expert, writer and broadcaster, Monty Don, as Goodwill Ambassador to promote the International Year of Plant Health. FAO also appoints the Irish garden designer, writer, and broadcaster, Diarmuid Gavin, as Champion of the cause. The UN declared 2020 (extended into 2021 due to COVID-19) as the International Year of Plant Health to protect plant health to help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.