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Chapter 3: Drivers of Change

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The growing demand for food, fodder, fuel, and raw materials is increasing pressures on land and the competition for natural resources. At the same time, degradation is reducing the amount of productive land available.

The drivers of land degradation can be categorized into two types: (i) direct or proximate drivers, and (ii) indirect or underlying drivers. Direct drivers are either natural (e.g., earthquakes, landslides, drought, floods) or anthropogenic (i.e., human-induced); some of the latter influence what would formerly be thought of as natural climatic events.

Human-induced drivers such as deforestation, wetland drainage, overgrazing, unsustainable land use practices, and the expansion of agricultural, industrial, and urban areas (i.e., land use change) continue to be the most significant proximate cause of land degradation.

Indirect drivers are generally regarded as the underlying causes of one or more direct drivers of land degradation. They include population growth, land tenure, and migration trends; consumer demand for land-based goods and services; macro-economic policies focused on rapid growth; and public policies and institutions encouraging investments that suppress cross-sector coordination.

The critical drivers briefly discussed in this chapter include:

  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Urbanization
  • Infrastructure development
  • Energy production
  • Mining and quarrying
chapter 3

Chapter 3: Drivers Of Change

The growing demand for food, fodder, fuel, and raw materials is increasing pressures on land and the competition for natural resources. At the same time, degradation is reducing the amount of productive land available. The drivers of land degradation are mainly external factors that directly or indirectly impact the health and productivity of land and its associated resources, such as soil, water, and biodiversity.

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