|CERES No. 098 - March - April 1984 (FAO Ceres, 1984, 50 p.)|
The few pages that comprise the Centerpiece section of the number attempt to highlight the major findings of a much more detailed technical report on present and potential population supporting capacity of lands in the developing world which is being distributed to FAO member governments. Such a drastic condensation can only hint at some of the complexities involved in completing the report, and, even less, do justice to the years of preparatory work that was required. A global study of this nature could not have been undertaken until recent years for the simple lack of a common system of classifying soils and of interpreting their varying degrees of suitability for production of different crops It was 23 years ago that FAO and Unesco, with the aim of remedying this problem, undertook to prepare a comprehensive Soil Map of the World In the ensuing 20years, no less than 10 000 maps, reports, and explanatory documents were collected and indexed; gradually common terminology has been evolved to permit an internationally acceptable appraisal of the world's soil resources. A parallel effort, this one involving FAO and the International Agricultural Centre at Wageningen, the Netherlands, to develop a Framework for Land Evaluation provided for some degree of standardization among different national systems. Using the sod map and the new land evaluation principles, FAO began to match sod and climate inventories and soil and climatic requirements of individual crops to arrive at estimated cropping potential This was an interdisciplinary effort, involving seven divisions within FAO. It was from the publication of the first regional estimate (for Africa) that the UN Fund for Population Activities became interested in taking the information a step further and to join with FAO and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to prepare the global study on which our report is based.
Our May-June number will focus on another aspect of population its distribution and the phenomenon of rural-urban migration.