Scientists have called for urgent action to restore degraded land to help prevent the world’s oceans and rivers being used as a rubbish dump for plastic and other pollution originating on land.
The call is one of the key recommendations in a UN International Resource Panel report published at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York today.
The report is co-authored by a University of Portsmouth sustainability expert Steve Fletcher, Professor of Ocean Policy and Economy.
Land restoration is a key factor in reducing pressures on ocean ecosystems and allowing them to continue providing economic, social and hazard mitigation benefits to coastal communities.
Professor Fletcher said: “Protecting our marine ecosystems needs to be given urgent attention and one of the most obvious ways of protecting our oceans is to look at what we do on land. Changing the way we use land, including surface run-off, sediment flows, and atmospheric emissions, could have a huge impact on safeguarding our oceans and rivers.
“Land restoration is a key factor in reducing pressures on ocean ecosystems and allowing them to continue providing economic, social and hazard mitigation benefits to coastal communities.”
Responding to the report, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Inger Andersen said: “It is clear that a huge step-up is required on all fronts if the world is to achieve sustainable development and reverse the climate and nature crises.
“Landscape restoration will bring obvious climate, biodiversity and livelihood benefits, and investing in nature’s infrastructure will provide a key ingredient for planetary security.
“The panel’s work shows how well-planned restoration at a landscape scale not only halts degradation, but also generates positive results. It is time for innovation, holistic thinking and ambitious action to put us on the path to sustainability.”
Professor Fletcher leads the University of Portsmouth’s research theme sustainability and the environment.