Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Comment
  • Published:

How to halt the global decline of lands

The assessment of land degradation and restoration by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services shows that land degradation across the globe is a wide and severe issue and is showing no signs of slowing down. This trend must be halted and reversed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1

illustration by Yuka Otsuki Estrada.


  1. IPBES The IPBES Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration (Secretariat of the IPBES, 2018).

  2. Foley, J. A. et al. Science 309, 570–574 (2005).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Newbold, T. et al. Science 353, 288–291 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Barbier, E. B. & Hochard, J. P. Land Degradation, Less Favored Lands and the Rural Poor: A Spatial and Economic Analysis. A Report for the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming, 2014).

  5. Mace, G. M. et al. Nat. Sustain. 1, 448–451 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Liu, J. et al. Science 347, 1258832 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Washington, H. et al. Biol. Conserv. 228, 367–374 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Gardner, T. A. et al. World Dev. 121, 163–177 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Gichenje, H., Muñoz-Rojas, J. & Pinto-Correia, T. Land 8, 115 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate in Support of the UNFCCC (2010 Update) (World Meteorological Organization, 2010).

  11. Garnett, S. T. et al. Nat. Sustain. 1, 369–374 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ens, E. J. et al. Biol. Conserv. 181, 133–149 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Verdone, M. & Seidl, A. Restor. Ecol. 25, 903–911 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Natural Capital Accounting: Overview and Progress in the European Union. 6th Report (EC, 2019).

  15. Crist, E., Mora, C. & Engelman, R. Science 356, 260–264 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Rosa, H. & Henning, C. The Good Life Beyond Growth: New Perspectives (Routledge, 2017).

Download references


We thank the hundreds of people who volunteered their expertise in producing and reviewing the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment. A full list of their names is presented in the Supplementary Information.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Louise Willemen.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Willemen, L., Barger, N.N., Brink, B.t. et al. How to halt the global decline of lands. Nat Sustain 3, 164–166 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing