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Panel session 2

How will land degradation neutrality impact climate change issues such as adaptation, mitigation and resilience building?

 

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This session was facilitated by Dr. Fred Stolle, World Resources Institute, who introduced the subject with a brief presentation on the findings of a recent study regarding the potential that exists globally to restore degraded land, emphasizing in particular the landscape approach.

 

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The message from Mr. Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director, Environment and Climate Change, International Fund for Agricultural Development, was that "we need to operate at the landscape level," giving due attention to all the interconnections, for example, between ecosystems, people, farming, marketing systems, the impact of access to markets, and the complexity that exists in rural communities. He said the connection between achieving zero-net land degradation and climate change is not a secret but is not well understood. He said, the current best-practice in agriculture underpins many of the processes leading to land restoration/rehabilitation, maximizing agricultural production and is also good for climate change resilience and rural poverty reduction. Scaling it up requires: setting targets and pressing points that make sense to people; providing environmental finance; and altering mindsets and understanding because the context is changing very quickly.

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Professor Michael Kidd, (PPT_Michael Kidd.pdfPPT_Michael Kidd.pdf) niversity of Kwa Zulu-Natal, made the presentation on behalf of legal experts at the IUCN. He presented the legal options available to the international community to support sustainable soil management on a global level, specifically, a binding stand-alone treaty, a protocol under the UNCCD and a non-binding instrument. He said the UNCCD and the Barcelona protocol on the protection and sustainable use of soils are the two existing legal instruments and underlined that the financing of an instrument is one of the key challenge likely to guide action.

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Ms. Mpume Ntlokwana, (PPT_Mpume Ntlokwana.pdfPPT_Mpume Ntlokwana.pdf) Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa, discussed the Land Care programme of South Africa, which was established in 1997 in response to soil loses of up to 3 tonnes per hectare. She said as a result of its success, the programme has spread to the East and Southern African, including Zambia and Malawi. She presented the Programme's principles, its four thematic areas on soil/land care protection, water care, veldt care and junior land care. She also discussed some of the projects and types of agriculture it supports.

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Dr. Noel Oettlé, Environment Monitoring Group, titled his presentation, "Climate Smart Agriculture" that presented the experience of small holder farmers and work with cooperatives. He argued that linking the funding for mitigation and adaptation to drylands agriculture would benefit government and business, while the losers will be cities, poor land users and biodiversity. To support the land users without harming the livelihoods of the poor, he called attention to the design and governing aspects, and, inter alia, a local vision, enabling learning, access to affordable technologies, appropriate financing and partnerships that support investment.

Representing the Commercial Farmers Union and speaking in his native Zulu, Mr. Daniel Ngwenya, presented a specific case, managing the Wattle Forest, Bergville - Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. He described the success of community managed forests that date back to 1927, with a focus on stimulating community initiatives for sustainable land management. He highlighted the benefits of the forests to the communities, the traditional practices used to address soil erosion and the efforts they have made to follow government rules and regulation and the resulting challenges. He highlighted the benefits of exchange visits in the diffusion of knowledge and technology.

The questions raised by participants include: the glue that has held the communities together for so long; how to deal with the gap between indigenous knowledge and conventional science; whether community-driven or top-down approaches are the most effective; the amount of land rehabilitated through the land care programme since it was initiated; and the barriers to the diffusion of the landscape approach.

Respondents cited the entrenched mind sets and lack of institutional mechanisms as major constraints to the diffusion of knowledge, and underscored the importance of each of the land actors in land restoration, from communities, to governments to intergovernmental organizations. Ms. Ntlokwana reported that 129,000 hectares of land was restored in 2010 and the target is now to restore 800,000 hectares by the end of 2015.

 

 

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