Population Momentum and the Demand on Land and Water Resources
Future world population growth is fuelled by two components: the demographic momentum, which is built into the age composition of current populations, and changes in reproductive behaviour and mortality of generations yet to come. This paper investigates, by major world regions and countries, what we know about population growth, what can be projected with reasonable certainty, and what is pure speculation. The exposition sets a frame for analysing demographic driving forces that are expected to increase human demand and pressures on land and water resources. These have been contrasted with current resource assessments of regional availability and use of land, in particular with estimates of remaining land with cultivation potential. In establishing a balance between availability of land resources and projected needs, the paper distinguishes regions with limited land and water resources and high population pressure from areas with abundant resources and low or moderate demographic demand. Overall, it is estimated that two-thirds of the remaining balance of land with rainfed cultivation potential is currently covered by various forest ecosystems and wetlands. The respective percentages by region vary between 23% in Southern Africa to 89% in South-Eastern Asia. For Latin America and Asia the estimated share of the balance of land with cultivation potential under forest and wetland ecosystems is about 70 percent, in Africa this is about 60%. If these were to be preserved, the remaining balance of land with some potential for rainfed crop cultivation would amount to some 550 million hectares. The regions which will experience the largest difficulties in meeting future demand for land resources and water, or alternatively have to cope with much increased dependency on external supplies, include foremost Western Asia, South-Central Asia, and Northern Africa. A large stress on resources is to be expected also in many countries of Eastern, Western and Southern Africa.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- July 1997