UK researchers highlight urgent need to tackle land degradation


Leading environmental researchers will warn of the new conflicts linking climate change to the growing deterioration of the global landscape at a United Nations conference in Mexico this week.

Birmingham City University’s Professor Mark Reed and the University of Leeds' Professor Lindsay Stringer, will present the first comprehensive report into global climate change and issues such as deforestation and soil erosion at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, running from 9 – 12 March in Cancun.

Mark Reed, Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research from the University’s Knowledge ExCHANGE Research Centre, said: “It’s easy to think of land degradation as a problem of the developing world that doesn’t affect us here in the UK. But if we continue to lose productive forests and rangelands around the world, then the carbon that they once locked up will be released into the atmosphere where it’ll drive further loss of productive ecosystems and more climate change.

Professor Reed and Professor Stringer led the development of the comprehensive ‘impulse report’ underpinning the themes of the UN conference with input from a panel of international experts.

It highlights how a more joined-up approach to tackling land degradation and climate change which brings together stakeholders from multiple disciplines could lead to the development of more cost-effective and timely solutions.

Professor Stringer, from the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds, said: “There is a real need for urgent, integrated action. Tackling land degradation isn’t just about starving people in other parts of the world. If we don’t respond now, we all risk paying a catastrophic price in terms of conflict, food insecurity and mass migration.”

Findings support NEW course

Findings from Professor Reed and Professor Stringer’s report will feature in a new Master’s course in Environmental Sustainability at Birmingham City University, targeted towards overseas students who will take the acquired skills that they develop back to countries experiencing some of the worst effects of land degradation and climate change.

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