Contribution from Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to the Seminar on Desertification and its Implications, 2 – 4 April 2007.
Dry and sub-humid ecosystems cover 47% of the Earth’s land surface. They are not barren land or dead landscapes; rather they contain a number of important well-adapted species. Indeed some of the world’s most important food crops originated in dry and sub-humid lands including wheat and olives. 44% of the world’s cultivated systems are located in these unique ecosystems. They provide, therefore, many essential goods and services. In grasslands and savannahs alone, more than 10,000 different grass species sequester carbon, filter water, provide fodder for livestock and supply materials for housing, clothing and handicrafts.