Land degradation is a severe and widespread environmental problem, and is tackled by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Biodiversity, and the Kyoto Protocol on Global Climatic Change. However, there is no authoritative measure of land degradation and countervailing land improvements. There is pressing need for an up-to-date, quantitative, and reproducible assessment to support policy development for food and water security, environmental integrity, international aid programmes, and national strategies for economic development and resource conservation.
The Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands project (LADA) was a five-year project developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). One of its major tasks was to prepare a Global Land Degradation Assessment map to replace the outdated GLASOD (Global Assessment of Human-induced Soil Degradation) evaluation produced by UNEP and the World Data Centre for Soils (ISRIC) in the early 1990s. LADA ran from 2006 to 2010.
With respect to new developments in monitoring land degradation, FAO, UNEP, and other partners – including WOCAT – worked towards a more comprehensive and scientifically based global assessment of land degradation through the LADA project. LADA was funded by GEF. Among other objectives, LADA aimed to identify “hot spots” (problem areas) and “bright spots” (conservation successes). The WOCAT Network and its database and publications fed into the LADA process by providing numerous examples of these “bright spots” or “green spots”.
Six countries participated in the project with their national institutions: Argentina, China, Cuba, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. Great importance was given to the involvement of stakeholders at all levels, using participatory approaches, expert consultations, and capacity building. At the same time, attention was given to international cooperation in combating degradation. Part of the project strategy was to support the establishment of regional land degradation training centres in the six countries, and linking these to the international environmental conventions, UNCCD, UNCBD, and UNFCCC.
The follow-up project to LADA is the Decision Support in Sustainable Land Management (DS-SLM) project of FAO and GEF.
As a global outcome, LADA developed and validated with its partners and partner countries a harmonized set of methodologies for the assessment of land use, land degradation, and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices at global, national, sub-national, and local levels:
LADA–WOCAT–DESIRE decision support methods are currently used on about 7 million km2 in at least 20 countries.
2006 - 2010
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