The third edition of the World Atlas of Desertification (WAD3) takes a fresh look at land degradation – a phenomenon triggered by human land use that is likely to threaten our ability to make productive use of the Earth while still maintaining the critical global environmental goods and services in the future.

Human activity is a main driver of global environmental changes. Where issues that signal global change coincide, they may lead to land transformations that can cause degradation of the land resource. Global telecoupled and dynamic human consumption patterns precipitate interaction of these issues and their impact at the local level. Accommodating this complexity, WAD3 offers an information framework from which to identify the nature of potential problems and pursue solutions that conform to local conditions.

The two decades since publication of WAD2 saw a tremendous growth in our understanding of coupled-human and natural systems, and an overwhelming increase in global environmental datasets and analytical tools. Building on these advances, WAD3 portrays the dynamic human footprint on Earth and its consequences for the land resources. WAD3 identifies areas of concern where multiple lines of evidence converge that suggest potential problems so that they might be confirmed and suggest actions to reverse, arrest, or adapt to them.

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