WOCAT Global & Regional Books

Making sense of research for sustainable land management

Land is of multi-dimensional character. It is multi-scale, multi-functional, multi-sectorial, multi-actor based: it needs people from practice and research to interact as equal partners to make sense of research for sustainable land management. The kind of research needed to deal with this complexity and these challenges we term implementation-oriented research. With its many practical examples, this book explores alternatives to the often perceived ‘either – or’ choice between agricultural intensification on the one hand, and expansion of arable land on the other. There is a third route to satisfy human needs for food, fibre, and fodder. This is the strategy of sustainable intensification. Twelve regional projects with the participation of more than 600 scientists within the seven-year-long research programme gained experience in land management contexts as different as those in Angola, Botswana, Brazil, China, Germany, Madagascar, Namibia, the Philippines, Russia (Siberia), and Vietnam. Lessons were learned about knowledge management and science-practice interaction.

The book provides evidence of how practices of sustainable land management – existing as well as new – can be adapted to specific local and regional contexts. It shows how research can support decision makers and advisors from a variety of sectors - at national, regional, and local levels - in comprehending the complexity of sustainable land management. It assists them in identifying and developing suitable solutions for prevention or restoration of land degradation, improvement of yields, increasing resilience in production systems, and making water management more efficient. A special focus targets measures for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Watch SLM related videos under: https://www.wocat.net/en/knowledge-base/slm-videos/making-sense-of-research-for-slm/category/making-sense-of-research-for-slm.html 

Take a more detailed look at the SLM technologies and approaches in the WOCAT database: https://www.wocat.net/en/knowledge-base.html and https://qcat.wocat.net/en/wocat

Making sense of research for sustainable land management - book and flyer

The book 'Making sense of research for sustainable land management' is available in English.

Order your hardcopy: wocat@cde.unibe.ch

Where the land is greener

The WOCAT book 'where the land is greener - case studies and analysis of soil and water conservation initiatives worldwide' has been published in 2007.

  • contains an extensive range of case studies from around the world: 42 soil and water conservation technologies and 28 approaches in total
  • provides a detailed analysis of the case studies under ‘technologies’ and ‘approaches’ and policy points for decision makers and donors
  • is a prototype and sets new standards for systematic documentation, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge on sustainable land management
  • addresses global concerns such as desertification, poverty, water scarcity and conflict

Co-published by CTA, UNEP, FAO and CDE

Order the book here (hardcopy only available in English).
For nationals of ACP (Africa Caribbean, Pacific) countries working in agriculture and rural development, to receive the publication for free please see www.cta.int or write to CTA, BP 173, 6700 AD Wageningen, The Netherlands.

SLM in Practice - Guidelines and Best Practices for|Sub-Saharan Africa

The publication ‘SLM in Practice - Guidelines and Best Practices for Sub-Saharan Africa' is a TerrAfrica Partnership Publication which has been prepared by WOCAT and coordinated by the FAO of the UN.

The document highlights the main principles of SLM, identifies and analyses best practices for improved productivity, livelihoods and ecosystem services and offers a framework for investment in SLM on the ground. It is illustrated with 47 case studies from 18 countries.

Published in 2011.

SLM in Practice - book and flyer

The WOCAT book 'SLM in practice' is available in English and French.

Desire for Greener Land

The WOCAT book "Desire for Greener Land - Options for Sustainable Land Management in Drylands" has been published in 2012. It has been written in the framework of the DESIRE project and compiles options for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in drylands.

The book describes the DESIRE approach and WOCAT methodology for a range of audiences, from local agricultural advisors to scientists and policymakers. Links are provided to manuals and online materials, enabling application of the various tools and methods in similar projects.
The book also includes an analysis of the current context of degradation and SLM in the study sites, in addition to analysis of the SLM technologies and approaches trialled in the DESIRE project. Thirty SLM technologies, eight SLM approaches, and several degradation and SLM maps from all the DESIRE study sites are compiled in a concise and well-illustrated format, following the style of this volume’s forerunner where the land is greener (WOCAT 2007).
Finally, conclusions and policy points are presented for decision makers, the private sector, civil society, donors,and the research community. These are intended to support people’s efforts to invest wisely in the sustainable management of land – enabling greener drylands to become a reality,not just a desire.

For more information about the project please click here.

Desire for Greener Land - book and flyer

Download the WOCAT book "Desire for Greener Land" as low resolution file.

Water Harvesting

The publication “Water Harvesting – Guidelines to Good Practice” was mandated by IFAD, prepared by WOCAT in collaboration with MetaMeta and RAIN and funded by SDC and  IFAD.

Water security is a prerequisite to achieve food security. Water harvesting offers under-exploited opportunities for the drylands and the predominantly rainfed farming systems of the developing world. The principle is simple: capture potentially damaging rainfall runoff and translate this into plant growth or water supply. This makes clear sense where rainfall is limited, uneven or unreliable with pronounced dry spells. These new guidelines introduce the concepts behind water harvesting and propose a harmonised classification system, followed by an assessment of suitability, adoption and up-scaling of practices. Four water harvesting groups are presented (flood water harvesting, macro- and microcatchment water harvesting as well as rooftop and courtyard water harvesting) and, for each, a selection of good practice in the form of case studies is given. These case studies are presented in the systematic, consistent and standardised format developed by the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT).

These practical guidelines offer a menu of technologies that can form part of an overall adaptation strategy for practitioners in the field and inform decision makers and donors to better understand and implement their choices. These technologies are flexible and if needed can be adjusted to the local context while being embedded into institutional frameworks. The aim is to stimulate discussion and new thinking about improved water management in general, and water harvesting in particular, within rainfed agriculture, particularly in the drylands and to facilitate, share and upscale good practice in water harvesting given the state of current knowledge.

Water Harvesting - book and flyer

The book “Water Harvesting – Guidelines to Good Practice” is available in English and French.

Sistematización de prácticas de conservación de suelos y aguas|para la adaptación al cambio climático

The WOCAT team at FAO’s regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean published a regional module of the Technology questionnaire (QT). The module is based on the original QT but adapted to the Latin-American conditions and combined with the module for climate change. The new module will hopefully be experienced as more concise and user friendly. Another novelty is the separation of the instructions on how to fill in the questionnaire from the actual questions. The instructions are instead presented in an annex in order to obtain a shorter questionnaire that is easier to overlook.

The publication of the module describes how the original questionnaire was adapted to the regional conditions and tested in some pilot cases, how it later was revised during a regional workshop and finally applied by independent experts to real cases in Latin America, resulting in 12 new practices systematized. The publication also contains a summary of those practices.

For the moment the team is continuing the improvement of the questionnaire by applying it to more practices in Latin America and the Caribbean. A current idea is to try the module on unconventional practices, such as aquaculture and those containing livestock holding, in order to better understand its strengths and weaknesses.  

Some of the upcoming activities involve taking part of the development of the WOCAT light version and planning a second regional WOCAT workshop in order to continue the improvement of the questionnaire.

The publication "Sistematización de prácticas de conservación de suelos y aguas para la adaptación al cambio climático" is available in Spanish.


Agricultural potentials and good practices in the MENA desert|zones

The report “Diagnostic and evaluation of the agricultural potentials and examples of good soil and water conservation and soil defence and restoration practices adapted to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) desert zones” was mandated by OSS (Sahara and Sahel Observatory) and MENA-DELP (Desert Ecosystems and Livelihoods Programme) and funded by the World Bank.

This report includes

  • a basic analysis of the situations and problems concerning water scarcity and production challenges encountered in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia,
  • an overview of suitable and potential strategies and principles to improve agricultural production and livelihoods in desert ecosystems,
  • and a survey of already existing soil and water conservation and soil defence and restoration experiences as well as approaches that allow putting technologies on the ground in the above mentioned 5 countries.

Published in 2014.

The report is available in English.