Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
December 2016
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Soils are an essential and non-renewable natural resource hosting goods and services vital to ecosystems
and human life. Soils are fundamental for producing crops, feed, fibre, fuel, and they filter and clean tens of thousands of cubic kilometers of water each year. As a major storehouse for carbon, soils also help regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which is fundamental for regulating climate. SSM is an integral part of sustainable land management, as well as a basis for addressing poverty eradication, agricultural and rural development, promoting food security and improving nutrition.
Soil is the world’s largest terrestrial pool of carbon and approximately 95% of global food is produced
in soil. SSM is a valuable tool for climate change adaptation and a pathway for safeguarding key ecosystem services and biodiversity. Due to the incalculable value soils provide to society through ecosystem services, SSM ensures a high return on investment by supporting and increasing these services. Widespread adoption of SSM practices generates multiple socio-economic benefits, especially for smallholder farmers and large scale agricultural producers worldwide whose livelihoods directly depend on their soil resources.
However, evidence recently provided in the Status of the World’s Soil Resources (SWSR) report and other studies shows that about 33% of global soils are moderately or highly degraded, i.e. due to unsustainable management practices. On a global scale an annual loss of 75 billion tons of soil from arable land is estimated to cost about USD 400 billion each year in lost agricultural production. This loss also significantly reduces the soil’s ability to store and cycle carbon, nutrients, and water. Annual cereal production losses due to erosion have been estimated at 7.6 million tonnes.

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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.


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