One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health (#OneHealth) Day on November 3rd 2016
"It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being to some extent. However, the function of supporting food and agriculture worldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet." – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).
The multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed. During time spent carrying out research for this blog I came across the following quote which I feel really captures the relevance of soil health for the One Health concept:
‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’.
This was actually said seven decades ago by Lady Eva Balfour, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English University, who went on to found the Soil Association in 1946. Yet it seems that on many levels we are still to realise the connectedness between health in soils, plants, animals and people.
Why we need to value our ecosystem services
A recent report The Value of Land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management published 15th September by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (ELD) estimates the value of ecosystem services lost worldwide due to land degradation at a staggering US $6.3 trillion to $10.6 trillion annually, or the equivalent of 10-17% of global GDP. The report goes further to say that the effects of land degradation and desertification are distributed unevenly throughout the human populations, and often impact the most vulnerable – the rural poor – who largely depend on land for both sustenance and income.
June 17 has been designated by the United Nations as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD). The slogan of this year's WDCD is 'Land Belongs to the Future, Let’s Climate Proof It’, which aims to ‘highlight the benefits of mainstreaming sustainable land management policies and practices into our collective response to climate change’. The objectives of this year’s WDCD are to increase the attention given to land and soil within climate change adaptation; mobilise support for sustainable land management and call for the inclusion of land and soil and their role in food security into national climate adaptation policies.