Recent publications

New publication: 'Making sense of research for sustainable |land management'

The new book ‘Making sense of research for sustainable land management’ published by CDE/WOCAT and UFZ is based on the work of more than 600 scientists and synthesizes experiences and practice-relevant results from a 7year German funded international research programme on interactions between land management, climate change, and ecosystems and their services. It includes 30 technologies and approaches documented using WOCAT standardized tools. It was launched on 5 December 2016 at the CBD COP13 in Cancun, Mexico.

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.

Suggested reference:

Liniger, HP., Mekdaschi Studer, R., Moll, P., Zander, U. 2017. Making sense of research for sustainable land management. Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland and Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.

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Water Harvesting

This new publication on “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.

Desire for Greener Land

The publication 'Desire for Greener Land' 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.