20/05/2014 - Bonn, Germany – The 14 semi-finalists for this year's Land for Life Award unveiled today are from Afghanistan, Canada, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Peru, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. Their work ranges from scientific breakthroughs on reversing desertification to combining indigenous agriculture knowledge with modern techniques for soil fertility.
Launched by the UNCCD for the first time in 2011, the Land for Life Award will recognize efforts that promote the natural health and productivity of the earth’s soils. These efforts are lifesaving and provide sustainability and a better life for all, particularly to the poorest communities in the world.
Winners who will share a prize fund of up to 100,000 USD will be announced on 17 June during the global observance event of the World Day to Combat Desertification to be held in Washington D.C. The event will be webcast live (www.unccd.int)
The Award drew interest from people working in all regions of the world, signifying the global scope of land degradation and individual as well as collaborative initiatives to recover the productivity of the land. The individual, NGO, government, business, media and other applicants all demonstrate a strong commitment to manage the land sustainably.
The winners will be selected by a jury with expertise in sustainable land management. It includes personalities like Dr. Vandana Shiva, a renowned seed sovereignty activist from India and Professor Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn among others experts drawn from government, the UNCCD, civil society and academia.
The fourteen semi-finalists are:
Abellon CleanEnergy, India
Abellon supports and works with rural communities to generate value from waste, provides enhanced income and employment to enable higher productivity and efficiency through agricultural best practices training. It buys biomass from farmers to produce bio-pellets/bio-power for bioenergy generation that replaces fossil fuels like coal and lignite.
A remarkable village works together using scientifically sound techniques to improve the environment and conditions in which they live. The community has established permanent land closures, all from their own land and conducts joint activities such as terracing, checking dams and land leveling. They have converted what was virtually barren land to 95% recovered vegetation. This example of unity and action to improve their own lives has become a model for the neighbor villages to solve life threatening issues.
Africa Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM), Zimbabwe
The majority of rural communities in Zimbabwe are situated on dry rangelands. ACHM provides training and support to local and international communities in Holistic Land and Livestock Management (HLLM) programs to properly manage livestock for the restoration of degraded range and croplands suffering from severe degradation and drought. Agro-pastoralists who depend upon these lands for survival use HLLM to improve the quality of their soil, raise the water-table, increase crop yields and raise healthier cattle.
AGIDE demonstrates the overwhelming benefits of mushrooms in making natural fertilizer. This further improves soil fertility and crop yields and creates a natural biocide that improves pest and disease resistance. Mushroom cultivation and consumption was a traditional aspect of rural life in parts of Togo that had almost died out until AGIDE began training villagers, particularly women, on how to grow mushrooms and make the compost and biocide, and use these products to improve soil and crop yields.
Carbon Green Africa, Zimbabwe
The turmoil in Zimbabwe’s agricultural production and population growth has led to significant damage to forests from overexploitation. This is risking its fertile land into becoming desert in northern Zimbabwe. Carbon Green Africa’s project Kariba RED++ addressed deforestation risks through food security conservation farming, fire management, participatory territorial planning, and alternative livelihood generation, and wildlife protection for ecotourism.
Chirapaq, Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú
Chirapaq incorporates sustainable technologies with ancient knowledge for the production of Andean crops, ensuring a way for comprehensive food security with sovereignty for the indigenous Ayacucho Quechua families. They produce organic fertilizer to improve soil quality and conservation of rainwater in the soil.
The Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountains Areas (COAM), Afghanistan
COAM Afghanistan has made outstanding achievements under the challenging conditions of a country in transition. COAM uses ‘clean cook stoves’, which not only reduces the pressure for natural resources on vulnerable arid rangelands by 50%, it also provides health and livelihood benefits for women and families.
Drynet brings together different actors to generate outcomes on a larger scale. It has created a bridge between local communities, scientists, national and international policy makers and provides sustainable development tools for dryland communities. It serves as a hub for local knowledge, practice and scientific research and an advocate for sustainable natural resources management by local communities in national and international policy processes.
Green Asia Network (GAN), Korea
In the arid lands of Mongolia, the Green Asia Network has trained 2,800 locals in forestry practices and sustainable agriculture to restore degraded lands and improve the livelihoods of 14,000 people. GAN has also brought together over 25,000 volunteers (Mongolian: 21,700, Korean: 3,700) to work on sustainable land management projects. Some 450,000 trees at six sites (total of 450 hectares) have been planted in Mongolia. GAN also operates eco-tours, giving an upfront look at climate change impact and allows participants to work on forestry projects. They have upcoming projects planned in Myanmar.
Excellent Development, UK
Transforming countless lives in drylands across East Africa, Excellent Development offers technical support for rural communities to build sand dams. Sand dams are benefitting communities in water use for livestock, domestic use and crop production and in coping with drought. Water held in the dam spreads horizontally, recharging the aquifer, allowing trees and other fauna to grow and restore degraded lands. They have projects in many dryland regions of the world.
Irob Community – the soil makers, Ethiopia
Characterized by rugged and stony mountains in this geographical location of Ethiopia, there is little land suitable for farming. Through hard work the communities are reclaiming farmland from valleys and gorges by building check dams and bench terraces. Using indigenous techniques, the Irob Community has managed to generate almost non-existent farmlands and transformed them from a predominantly vulnerable pastoralism to a more resilient livelihood based on flood trapping and irrigation based agriculture in the face of overwhelming challenges brought by climate change.
Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), India
NCF works with agro-pastoralists in the high altitude areas of the Himalayas, an area that is home to unique plant and animal species. NCF’s research in rangeland health has informed national policies and led to innovative community-based programs to improve soil health, increase water security, reduce livestock grazing pressures and protect this unique ecosystem.
Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment – SCOPE, Pakistan
Tharparkar of Pakistan is a drought prone region where a failed rainy season can cause a drought situation resulting in massive crop and livestock failure. Since its creation, SCOPE has carried out many activities in this region which include rainwater harvesting, rangeland management and enhancing agro forestry practices and has alleviated some of the suffering caused by food insecurity and malnutrition.
Taking Root, Canada
There was little incentive for agroforestry in Nicaragua due to the lack of missing markets for forest and non-timber forest products. Since Taking Root was established, agroforestry has now become economically viable for smallholders. This project takes a landscape approach. It considers how all the farms can work together within the landscape to reforest critical watersheds. Smallholders are encouraged to reforest the under-utilized and degraded parts of their farms in exchange for direct payments over time as the trees deliver ecosystem services.
About the UNCCD
Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention’s 195 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land’s productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.