A total of 2 billion people live in drylands globally says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports NaijaAgroNet.
The new study from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) helps to fill a significant knowledge gap on the presence and extent of forests and trees in the world's drylands, where the food security and livelihoods of millions of people, already precarious, are increasingly being threatened by climate change.
The study's preliminary findings made available to NaijaAgroNet Tuesday showed the full report will be launched later this year, showed that trees are present with hugely varying densities on almost one-third of the world's 6.1 billion hectares of drylands, which cover an area more than twice the size of Africa. Almost 18 percent of this area contains forests.
In addition to an estimated 2 billion people, FAO said, 90 percent of whom are in developing countries, live in drylands. Recent studies have indicated the need to restore these areas to cope with the effects of drought, desertification and land degradation.
In particular, water availability in drylands is expected to decline further due to changes in climate and land use. Poor people living in remote rural areas will be most vulnerable to food shortages, which combined with violence and social upheaval, are already leading to forced migration in dryland regions in Africa and western Asia.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that until now, there has been little statistically based knowledge on dryland trees - particularly those growing outside forests - despite their vital importance to humans and the environment.
FAO further said that the leaves and fruit of trees are sources of food for people and fodder for animals; their wood provides fuel for cooking and heating and can be a source of income for poor households; trees protect soils, crops and animals from the sun and winds, while forests are often rich in biodiversity.