Capacity development efforts by the Action Against Desertification (AAD) programme in West Africa, the first-ever nationwide assessment of contaminated soil in Serbia, a handbook for community restoration of degraded coastal dune ecosystems in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and cost-benefit analyses of sustainable soil fertility management practices in Kenya are among recently-announced initiatives to boost local monitoring of land degradation and desertification as well as community-level adaptation efforts.
April 2016: Capacity development efforts by the Action Against Desertification (AAD) programme in West Africa, the first-ever nationwide assessment of contaminated soil in Serbia, a handbook for community restoration of degraded coastal dune ecosystems in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and cost-benefit analyses of sustainable soil fertility management practices in Kenya are among recently-announced initiatives to boost local monitoring of land degradation and desertification as well as community-level adaptation efforts.
In their March/April 2016 newsletter, the AAD reported on the third regional training workshop for national experts from the AAD member countries – Chad, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal – that took place Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 15-21 March. Organized by FAO, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the University of Tuscia, Italy, the Ouagadougou workshop focused on how to design and analyze socioeconomic baseline assessments and conduct household surveys, and how to refine the monitoring and evaluation framework for the African component of the AAD programme.
The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) has published a project brief announcing the launch of a new research project that is exploring the economic costs and benefits of sustainable soil fertility management in western Kenya. Coordinated by the University of Leeds, the Stockholm Environmental Institute Africa Centre and the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation, as part of the German development agency (GIZ) programme on ‘Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security,’ the study aims to shed light on socio-economic factors that hinder the broad application of improved soil, water and vegetation management practices, with a view to providing empirical evidence to inform the development of a new national soil policy for Kenya. The study also aims to contribute to the effective implementation of the agriculture component of the County Integrated Development Programmes (CIDP) for the three case study counties of Siaya, Kakamega and Bungoma. The project brief describes the study methodology, study sites and timeframe of the study, which is taking place between December 2015 and June 2016. Past ELD studies have undertaken similar economic assessments of diverse land-use systems and practices in countries such as Botswana, Cameroon and Ethiopia.
With an estimated 85% of the dune systems in Mexico’s Veracruz State affected by degradation, the Mexico Institute of Ecology (INECOL) has published two illustrated publications providing simple and practical techniques for dune restoration, reforestation and enrichment (available only in Spanish). The first handbook, titled ‘Técnicas, mañas y prácticas para recuperar y cuidar los árboles y el monte en los médanos de Veracruz,’ explains how to support local communities to restore degraded coastal dune ecosystems. The second publication, titled ‘Reforestación y enriquecimiento de especies arbóreas en los médanos: guía práctica,’ focuses on the sustainable development of commercial timber plantations in dune systems. The manuals were developed as part of a project supported by the International Tropical Timber Association (ITTO), which carried out environmental assessments and economic valuation of ecosystem services provided by coastal forests in Veracruz. Drawing on research results and the traditional knowledge of local forest communities, the manuals explain how to restore and protect the ecological functions of dune ecosystems while generating income, and relay techniques to, inter alia: restore and maintain trees and woodlands; attract wildlife to help with the natural regeneration of degraded dune areas; connect different habitats and restore environmental functions.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced the launch of the first-ever nationwide study to identify and map contaminated soil sites in Serbia and build national capacity to carry out remediation measures. In addition to training national officials in monitoring and reporting methodologies, the project aims to assist Serbia in raising its environmental standards as part of the EU accession process, as well as contribute to targets to halt and reverse land degradation, including under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 (Life on land). In addition to existing national regulation establishing limit and remediation values for soil pollutants, the Serbian Parliament adopted a new law on soil in 2015 that requires local authorities to provide information on soil contamination to the country’s environment agency. Serbia is expected to open negotiations on the environment chapter of its EU membership bid in late 2016. [FAO News Release on AAD Ouagadougou Workshop] [ELD Project Brief on Advancing knowledge on the costs and benefits of sustainable soil fertility management in western Kenya] [Overview of other ELD economic assessments and valuation resources] [Técnicas, mañas y prácticas para recuperar y cuidar los árboles y el monte en los médanos de Veracruz (In Spanish)] [Reforestación y enriquecimiento de especies arbóreas en los médanos: guía práctica (In Spanish)] [UNEP Press Release on Serbia soil study] [IISD RS stories on monitoring and implementation of land restoration initiatives]