The degradation of environmental assets, especially soils, air, and water, severely challenges the productivity of agriculture and forest resources (Pinstrup-Andersen and Pandya-Lorch, 1998; Price et al., 1999a, 1999b). In the post-World War II period, approximately 23% of the world's agricultural and forest lands were classified as degraded by the U.N. Environment Programme (Oldeman et al., 1991). Irrigated land is particularly vulnerable, although the expansion of irrigation is slowing.
Although the economic impacts of the long-term environmental degradation of forest and agricultural systems are difficult to determine, the general consensus is that they will eventually begin to undermine the necessary expansion of food and fiber production if allowed to increase at current rates.
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