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LandScan What's New ​is a compilation of freely available information resources related to Desertification, Land Degradation, Drought and Sustainable Land Management prepared by UNCCD library

Land Scan What's New

Case studies from WRI’s Restoration Diagnostic show that land restoration in Latin America and the Caribbean has been done before. Successes from Brazil, Panama and Costa Rica offer lessons on how to get degraded land back into productive use.​ Read How Brazil, Panama and Costa Rica Breathed New Life Into Their Degraded Lands and more from WRI​​​

Latin America and the Caribbean are home to some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world. The region holds about half of the world’s tropical forests, and more than 30 percent of its mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians. But despite the region’s ecological importance, more than 200 million hectares (494.2 million acres) of land has been completely deforested or degraded in the past century, an area the size of Mexico. About the WRI restoration diagnostic read here.​


For the first time, a new United Nations report details the number of trees, forests and how the land is used in the world’s drylands, and the findings could be used to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and help fight climate change​. On 19 July FAO presented in Rome the preliminary findings of the first ever statistical sampling based assessment of land use in the world’s drylands, read more here.​​

Why land degradation is our greatest issue today? Statement by Dr. Richard Thomas: "Our efforts for sustainable development, for peace and stability in drylands and beyond must focus more and more on land​"  More from Dr. R.Thomas - the Director of CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and Scientific Coordinator of the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative you can find here

On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification 2016, the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems wished to raise awareness about land degradation, an issue demanding global attention as it affects the stability and resilience of natural and human systems everywhere.

To commemorate this day, the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems is launching Desertification: the Invisible Frontier of Land Degradation, Poverty and Migration, an Exposure story to highlight the causes and consequences of land degradation, and the need for inclusive cooperation to halt and reverse this calamity. 

See also: Interactive infographic on key facts and figures on Land Degradation and Drylands​​

The land-migration nexus offers several opportunities that are yet to be appreciated, for instance in the context of other international processes, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The challenge that IOM and UNCCD have to face by working together is transforming the vicious cycle of land degradation-migration-land degradation into a virtuous cycle. Securing land productivity is the first step to grounding opportunities for people in their home and land communities​. Migration and Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Read more here

Land resources are one of nature’s most precious gifts. They feed us and help our societies and economies to thrive. Some 2.5 billion agricultural smallholders worldwide manage around 500 million small farms, providing more than 80 per cent of food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These resources are being degraded at an alarming pace. 

An estimated 33 per cent of soil is moderately to highlydegraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, salinization, compaction and chemical pollution. 

Each year we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 15 billion trees, costing the economy around $40 billion.

Read  the new publication "Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools"​. A Report of the Working Group on Land and Soils of the International Resource Panel.  ​

Farmers living on degraded land are excluded from the benefits of

economic growth in many developing countries, research suggests.

Living on degraded land limits harvests and profits for farmers

This negates benefits of economic growth, such as better market

access. Expansion did less to reduce poverty as area of degraded

farmland rose. Why people on degraded land are cut off from economic growth​? Read more here

Land is a valuable and limited resource. Better integration of land use impacts needed across EU policies​. The report "The direct and indirect impacts of EU policies on land"  looks at : key aspects of land use, including land take, which is when land is ‘taken’ or developed for infrastructure.​ Read more here​

No net land take by 2050? What measures can avoid, reduce or compensate for land take? Land and soil are limited natural resources essential to all human life. One of the major environmental challenges facing Europe is an increasing demand for development, which threatens these ecosystem services, such as water recycling and purification, carbon storage, and food and fuel — as well as biodiversity. This Future Brief focuses on how land and soil could be used efficiently to continue to provide these functions and services for generations to come. Science for Environment Policy

This is the second installment of World Resources Institute Restoration Global Tour blog series. The series examines restoration success stories in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America. Tune in over the coming months for additional installments, or check out WRI Restoration Diagnostic​ for more information.

The land for our food- watch the latest video produced by the Access to Land Network​ here.  This film is a very concrete introduction to the challenge of land access in Europe and the power of communities to overcome them.​

"Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement – A Global Assessment for Sustainable Development"  Returns to investment in action against land degradation are twice larger than the cost of inaction in the first six years alone. Moreover, when one takes a 30-year planning horizon, the returns are five dollars per each dollar invested in action against land degradation.The opportunity cost accounts for the largest share of the cost of action against land degradation. See Chapter "Global Cost of Land Degradation" pp 117-165​​

Land and Water Factsheets: Drought Risk Management(FAO)​.Through these divisional factsheets FAO aims to provide the readers with concise and clear descriptions on the work we carry out. From irrigation management to sustainable use of natural resources, through to the Global Soil Partnership. This time FAO focused on the factsheet on their work in Drought Risk Management. A collaborative program to build greater resilience to drought and to mitigate its scourges on societies and economies.

On 21.03.2016, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum titled “Building National Capabilities for Long-Term Drought Resilience” which contains the guidelines to sustain and expand efforts to reduce the vulnerability of communities to the impacts of drought. Read more​

Drought vulnerability in the Arab region: case study - Drought in Syria, ten years of scarce water (2000-2010). This report addresses drought, which is considered the major disaster occurring in the Arab region, where the total people affected between the years 1970-2009 by drought is of about 38.09 million. The report focuses on Syria, considered one of the most economically affected countries by drought in the region. The case study provides information on historical droughts in the country between 2000-2010, including data on frequency, vulnerabilities and lessons learned with drought impacts.​​

See also the new Springer Open access Coping with disaster - Future directions in our Be among the first to know issue 11 March 2016 ​

The land and water footprints of everyday products. Mind your step
The report explores the environmental footprints of everyday products, using a footprinting approach to measure the amount of land and water needed across the product’s supply chain.The results reveal the intensive resource demands of some products: a single smart phone for example requires 18m2of land and nearly 13,000 litres (13 tonnes) of water. Learn more from the report


Mapping Land Degradation and Sustainable Land Management Opportunities”  The new World Atlas of Desertification ( expected in August 2016) builds on recent scientific advancements, and aims to be a pragmatic exercise and example of the implementation of up-to-date concepts of land degradation.
The WAD is to be the foundation for better addressing and including desertification and land degradation in the newly defined sustainable development goals (SDGs) and strategies on food security, resource efficiency, emission schemes, development and poverty reduction.
An introductory brochure
can be downloaded and provides a short overview on the concept, issues and processes that can lead to land degradation and some local examples that reflect global patterns. For more information. Source: JRC-EC


GLOBALANDS project aims to identify promising existing land use policies and to develop possible governance tools towards a more resource efficient and sustainable global land use. After almost four years of intensive research on sustainable land use at global level, the GLOBALANDS project ended in April 2015. A synthesis report was published by the Federal Agency of Environment in October 2015. The report summarises major findings of the research and discussions undertaken in the project. Future pathways towards global sustainable land use are described and recommendations for German policy are presented. The report ends with remaining questions, which need further investigation and discussion, follow the "Synthesis Report "Resource-efficient Land Use - Towards a global sustainable land use standard (GLOBALANDS) and other reports from this project here


LandMark is the first online, interactive global platform to provide maps and other critical information on lands that are held and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities. The platform aims to raise awareness, engage audiences, and help these people protect their land rights. Shining a light on indigenous and community land reduces the likelihood that irregular acquisitions and expropriations go unnoticed, and helps protect the livelihoods and well-being of billions of rural people.

While strong legislation alone will not secure tenure, weak legal protection is a central reason why Indigenous Peoples and communities are losing their land and sometimes their lives. You can explore the LandMark interactive map here.   Source: WRI


WHO OWNS THE WORLD'S LAND? A Global Baseline of Indigenous and Community Land Rights​. The first-of-its-kind baseline to measure the global extent of indigenous and community land rights. Around the world, 1.5 billion people manage their ancestral land according to customary systems—but as “Who Owns the World’s Land?” reveals, the vast majority of these communities lack government recognition of their land rights. See  The Infographic, the video , why do communities need legal rights to their land and more from the latest conference in Bern, Switzerland 30 September- 1 October 2015​ .

Land ahoy! Appreciating the value of our common ground, land finally gaining ground on the political aganda. The new ELD land report "The value of land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management " provides the much -awaited evidence base to spur the world to halt and reverse unsustainable land use. The report puts a price tag on land degradation and demonnstrates the economic benefits of avoided land degradation.


A new report "Exploring nature-based solutions: the role of green infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of weather- and climate change-related natural hazards​’"published today 21 September  by the European Environment Agency (EEA) explores how ‘green infrastructure’ can help Europe prepare for and reduce the loss from weather- and climate-related hazards

The world's forests continue to shrink as populations increase and forest land is converted to agriculture and other uses, but over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50 percent, FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 - How are the world’s forests changing?


Food Tank has selected 20 books to engage readers in topics that range from sustainable diets to empowerment of women in agriculture. From lentil farmers to food pantry activists, the unexpected food heroes who star in these stories are creating a fair and sustainable food system from farm to fork(FoodTank)


Tef: New superfood crop in ICRISAT’s portfolio . Tef (Eragrostis tef), an important crop for both income and nutrition in Ethiopia, has joined the list of ICRISAT’s research crops. Being a minor millet and grown in semi-arid and sub-humid environments, it fits well into ICRISAT’s mandate.Tef is not only gluten-free, but also highly nutritious. It has the highest amount of protein among cereals and has high levels of calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, barium and thiamine.(ICRISAT)

Water, food security and human dignity – a nutrition perspective. This discussion paper examines the importance of water in ensuring food security. In the focus: Water, land rights and food security; The surge in land acquisitions – a surge in water acquisition; Land rights and access to water are often closely interconnected; Acknowledging women’s role in water and food security and more. (Lundqvist, J., Grönwall, J. and Jägerskog, A. (2015). Water, food security and human dignity – a nutritionperspective. Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Swedish FAO Committee, Stockholm


Climate change and the geographical and institutional drivers of economic development.The links between climate change, economic development and poverty reduction have gained increasing attention over recent years in both the academic and policy literature. This paper reviews potential effects of climate change on the prospects for long-run economic development. The focus is in particular on the effects in low-income, semi-arid countries, as they are anticipated to suffer disproportionately the most negative effects of climate change.This working paper has been produced as part of the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE)project.


Coping with climate risk: the role of institutions, governance and finance in private adaptation decisions of the poor.An important consideration for policy-makers, which appears to have been relatively neglected to date in the adaptation literature, is how adaptation and development will interact dynamically over time.This working paper has been produced as part of the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE)project.


The Land Battle: 15 Organizations Defending Land Rights. (FoodTank). The increasing trend of international land grabbing—when governments and private firms invest in or purchase large tracts of land in other countries for the purpose of agricultural production and export—can have serious environmental and social consequences. Investors claim that land grabs can help alleviate the world food crisis by tapping into a country’s ‘unused’ agricultural potential, but such investments often do more harm than good, disrupting traditional land use and leaving half a billion family farmers vulnerable to exploitation.


Saving soils at degradation frontlines: Sustainable land management in drylands (CDE policy brief 2015#5) .Twelve million hectares of fertile land are lost to desertification every year – three times the size of Switzerland.1 If we do nothing, desertification could ultimately jeopardize our ability to feed ourselves.


The European environment — state and outlook 2015 — synthesis report. Land use is a major factor influencing the distribution and functioning of ecosystems and thus the delivery of ecosystem services. The degradation, fragmentation and unsustainable use of land is jeopardising the provision of several key ecosystem services, threatening biodiversity, and increasing Europe's vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.


Natural resources and conflict: A guide for mediation practitioners. Natural resources such as land, water, timber, minerals,metals and oil are vitally important sources of livelihoods, income and influence for countries and communities around the globe. When natural resources are poorly managed they can contribute to tensions that can escalate into violent conflict, or feed into and exacerbate pre-existing conflict dynamic.


Land as a resource. European Commission. Land is a finite resource. It is subject to competing pressures from urbanisation, infrastructure, increased food, feed, fibre and fuel production and the provision of key ecosystem services.But it's also a shrinking resource. Almost 1000 km2 of agriculture or natural land disappears every year in the EU, as it is converted into artificial areas. More EU land is affected by degradation all the time, and ecosystem services are lost as a result. This is a global problem. The EU contributes to land degradation in third countries, as we are a net "importer" of land embedded into imported products. Demand for areas to settle, grow food and biomass is rising around the world, and climate change is likely to impact on land demand, availability and degradation


Global Environmental Problems as a Risk to Security. Hot off the press and the nexus between climate change, land degradation, food insecurity, land grab and security This study analyses the impact of climate change and desertification on human security


Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land. World Resources Institute Installment 9 of Creating a Sustainable Food Future shows that any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon


ZEF Discussion paper on “Biomass Productivity-Based Mapping of Global Land Degradation Hotspots. Using global level remotely sensed vegetation index data, the hotspots of land degradation in the world across major land cover types are identified. The findings show that land degradation hotpots cover about 29% of global land area and are happening in all agro-ecologies and land cover types.


Focus on Land in Africa (FOLA). The educational resource for development practitioners and policy makers explores how land and natural resource rights affect, and are effected by, development in Africa.Through raising awareness of these issues, FOLA aims to elevate land and natural resource rights as an urgent priority for development in Africa.


Centre for Land Tenure Studies (CLTS) Working Paper on land tenure reforms and land markets in Africa . This paper provides a review of the past and potential future roles of land tenure reforms and land markets in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as responses to population growth in the process of land use intensification and livelihood transformation.This paper provides a review of the past and potential future roles of land tenure reforms and land markets in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as responses to population growth in the process of land use intensification and livelihood transformation.​​​​​​


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