Croplands devour more and more of the Earth’s surface. This map shows how far

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The numbers sing. And with soprano clarity, others. Over the past two decades, the number of us living in this “pale blue dot” what we call Earth has grown by 20.3% to add 7,700 million people. By the middle of the century there will already be 10,000 million. That’s a lot of people, yes; and also, as recognized by NASA itselfmany mouths to feed.

The Earth of the 21st century, that of the great urban conurbations and metropolises with insane levels of agglomeration, such as Dhaka, Kinshasa or Tokyo, is also an enormous orchard. As the population grows and demand increases, the area devoted to farmland seems to expand as well. shows it with meridian clarity the map you have drawn Global Land Analysis & Discovery Lab (GLAD)from the University of Maryland, with data from the Landsat satellite.

His study concludes that so far this century, the area of ​​land dedicated to crops has given a considerable “growth”. Specific, between 2003 and 2019 it has increased by 9%, which is equivalent to more or less one million square kilometers, the surface of Egypt or twice that of Spain. The GLAD tool also allows us to verify on the ground how this progress has been traced over the last five years and its accelerated expansion since the early 2000s.

A mosaic that speaks for itself

Three ranges of colors are used on the maps: green, blue and copper. The first marks the stable or intermittent cultivation surfaces, the second those areas that have been reclaimed for cultivation land between 2004 and 2019 and the last, which goes from an ocher to red hue, the land that has ceased to be dedicated to cultivation in sometime between 2004 and 2019. When rendered on a screen, the GLAD tool shows a spatial resolution of 30 meters.

Glad’s blueprint it reflects only farms that are dedicated to annual and perennial herbaceous crops, whether for human consumption, fodder or biofuels, which leaves out, for example, tree plantations, permanent pastures or itinerant agriculture. It also limits the duration of the fallow phases. With these clear premises, what does your drawing show? Well basically, as GLAD points outan accelerated expansion of farmland in the 21st century”.

part of europe

Map of part of Europe. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

North America and Central America

Map of part of North America and Central America. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Detail of South America and Central America

Map of South and Central America. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

part of oceania

Oceania. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Africa

Africa and Arabian Peninsula. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Part of Central and South Africa

Detail of the center of Africa. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Asian Party

Asia. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Detail Of The Center Of South America

Detail of central South America. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Part of Europe and Russia

Detail of lost farmland in the Russia area. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Of course, an expansion with nuances and at double speed. If the map shows that farmland is gaining ground —pun intended— it also reflects that this increase is more or less localized in certain regions of the planet and there are even points where agricultural areas are losing steam. Among the first, those that grow, Africa and South America stand out.

Experts estimate that the biggest increase it was recorded, by far, in Africa, with some 530,000 square kilometers of new farmland. The second was found in South America, where the increase was 370,000 km2. Australia and South-West Asia also saw increases, albeit more modest, and Europe, North America and South-East Asia show stagnation marked by some changes. In the USA, for example, an abandonment of land was seen in the east that ended up compensating for the creation of new plantations in the great plains.

Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands

Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Galicia

Galician detail. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Peninsula Center

Detail of the center of the Iberian Peninsula. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Castilla la Mancha

Detail of Castilla-La Mancha. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Detail Of The Almeria Coast

Detail of the Almeria coast. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

Aragon Environment

Detail of part of the peninsular center. The points with green tones indicate stable or intermittent farmland, the bluish ones are those that have been gained between 2004 and 2019 and those that range from ocher to red correspond to the areas lost during that same period.

At the opposite pole is Russia, where researchers note an abandonment of farmland since the 1990s, after the dissolution of the USSR. Moreover, the technicians point out that in Putin’s country, “where the abandonment of crops is widespread and not fully documented”, fao “overestimates” arable land. Another country in which a decrease can be seen is Cuba.

As a climax, the experts launch a warning to navigators. That the area devoted to soy, rice or wheat production grows, for example, can be worrying for a very simple reason: there is land that is recovered from disused farms, but much more is gained at the expense of natural spaces such as forests or jungles, with a key role in CO2 absorption. And it is not a small percentage. 49% of the new cultivation area replaced areas of natural vegetation and trees.

Images | GLAD

The numbers sing. And with soprano clarity, others. Over the past two decades, the number of us living in this…

The numbers sing. And with soprano clarity, others. Over the past two decades, the number of us living in this…

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