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According to a paper produced by the National Academy of Science of the USA, by 2030, the world could lose millions of hectares of fertile agricultural lands to expanding cities, amounting to a total lose of 80 per cent of agricultural land in Asia
The paper entitled 'Future urban land expansion and implications for global croplands' by d'Amour et al, raises concerns that the urban expansion of Asian cities will have severe repercussions to the continent's fertile land.
The study was carried out by researchers and academics from Austria, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and the United States. The research analysed satellite data on croplands since 2000 and compared this to urban area projections for 2030 and concluded that 30 million hectares (mnha) of cropland will be lost to growing cities. This is the equivalent size of the Philippines. Across Africa and Asia, it is estimated that 24mnha of prime agricultural land shall be lost.
The abstract of the research states that, 'Our results show that urban expansion will result in a 1.8–2.4 per cent loss of global croplands by 2030, with substantial regional disparities. About 80 per cent of global cropland loss from urban expansion will take place in Asia and Africa. In both Asia and Africa, much of the cropland that will be lost is more than twice as productive as national averages. Asia will experience the highest absolute loss in cropland, whereas African countries will experience the highest percentage loss of cropland.'
“One the one hand, there is agricultural land consumed by urbanisation, and on the other, new land for agriculture will possibly replace forests or other valuable ecosystems at relevant scales,” says Felix Creutzig, head of the Land Use, Infrastructure and Transport Group at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, Germany, who participated in the study.