Recent estimates of the global loss of ecosystem services due to land degradation and desertification are between US$ 6.3 and 10.6 trillion annually. These high costs have not received adequate attention, partly due to the complexity of accurately measuring the knock-on effects and externalities of land degradation. There is a tendency by countries to only consider the impact on food production and to overlook ecosystem services such as water supply and regulation or reduction in carbon sequestration. IUCN’s work in Jordan has shown that these values can dwarf the value of food production by an order of magnitude.
Managing land sustainably means less carbon emissions and more carbon capture. Soil organic carbon contributes to the fertility of the soil and to its capacity to hold water, and therefore to a large extent determines the capacity of the soil to produce food and to support other biodiversity. The resilience of societies and ecosystems is increased where soil productivity, and hence carbon stock, is increased.