Land for Life Award 2021. Healthy Land – Healthy Lives

2021 LfL winner Familial Forestry

Launched at the UNCCD COP10 in the Republic of Korea as part of the Changwon Initiative, the Land for Life Award recognizes excellence and innovation in efforts towards land in balance. The past editions shed light on inspiring initiatives of recovery and restoration of degraded landscapes worldwide. They all made a significant contribution towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: "Life on Land", in particular, Target 15.3 land degradation neutrality (LDN).

Under the theme, "Healthy Land, Healthy Lives", the 2021 Award put the spotlight on individuals/organizations that made an outstanding contribution to land degradation neutrality on a large scale with remarkable positive impacts on land, people, communities, and society. 

The 2021  Land for Life Award is Familial Forestry of Rajasthan, India, a unique concept of Shyam Sunder Jyani, Associate Professor for Sociology at in Rajasthan that relates a tree with a family, making it  a green "family member." The 2021 special mention is awarded by the UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr Ibrahim Thiaw to the Global Landscapes Forum in recognition of the exceptional work as one of the world’s largest knowledge-led platforms on sustainable and inclusive landscapes. 





Cassinia has been working on landscape restoration and biodiversity protection since 2004. They deliver projects which restore, reconnect and protect Australia's natural systems, endeavouring to see all of national parks reconnected through biodiversity-based revegetation projects. Cassinia also seeks to incorporate conservation management into agricultural systems, creating productive and ecologically resilient landscapes. In the past 15 years, Cassinia has delivered over 90 landscape-scale projects across four states, and in the process, become the largest private-land covenantor in Victoria. This means that they have permanently protected almost 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares) of the country’s  unique environment.

Cauvery Calling - Rally for Rivers, Ishafoundation/India

Cauvery Calling is a pioneering and ambitious civil-society led project focused on climate-smart and regenerative agriculture on a mass scale. The 12-year project aims to enable 5.2 million farmers to transition towards sustainable agriculture and to plant 2.4 billion agroforestry trees by 2030 in a massive landscape-level restoration effort across the breadth of southern India. By shifting farmers to tree-based agriculture, it seeks to bring one-third of the basin under tree cover, restore the soil, and revive the dwindling river.  ​​​Website:

When I was asked what the three major things that the world should focus on to undo the damage that has been done to the environment in the last 100 years are, I said the 3 things are soil, soil and soil

— Sadhguru

Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO)/Zambia

COMACO has been active over the past 15 years, improving small-scale rural farmers' livelihoods along the Luangwa River Valley. Poachers of wild game were won into handing in their weapons, training in agriculture and taking a Conservation Oath. COMACO facilitates the entire value chain, from seed selection, land preparation and care to harvest, purchase of produce at premium prices from the farmers to local food production, sales and delivery.

179,000 farmers were trained as food supply and conservation farmers, of which 52 % are women. 30 Million trees (Gliricidia sepium) were planted in the farming fields to regenerate the soil. The charcoal business was reduced, biodiversity increased. Food security increased by 87%. average income by 450%. 120% increase in maize yield. Website:

Familial Forestry, Rajasthan/India

Familial Forestry is a unique idea of Shyam Sunder Jyani, Associate Professor in Sociology at Government Dungar College in Bikaner, Rajasthan. Familial Forestry relates the tree with family, and thereby a tree is treated as a green member of the family.

The family is considered to be the basic unit of society. The participation of this institution ensures the success of any social campaign. Familial Forestry means including the matter of tree and environment in the family. Gradually, the tree becomes part of the ' 'family's consciousness. After that, the family becomes a part of the ecological consciousness, and every issue related to plant, tree, leaves, the climate becomes part of popular consciousness. This green or eco socialization brings environmental sensitivity and empowerment.

15,000 villages and more than one million families have joined the Familial Forestry campaign in western Rajasthan. Over the past 17 years, more than 2.5 million trees have been planted. Facebook page:

IGugu Trust/Zimbabwe

Situated at the heart of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Zimbabwe, IGugu Trust is a grassroots non-profit organization regenerating degraded landscapes through holistic management of livestock and land.

IGugu Trust provides training to rural communities on how to improve their livelihoods through planned grazing in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and other countries of Southern Sub-Saharan Africa. Their work is focused on improving grasslands by mimicking predator-prey relations in wild Africa. Holistic Land and Livestock Management is understood as a simple decision-making framework to manage the web of economic, social and biological complexity.

Since 2016, IGugu Trust has provided 57 trainings to communities in Zambia, the Hwange communal lands in Zimbabwe, Kenyan Maasai Pastoral communities, and Samburu Pastoral communities in Northern Kenya. The work has been demanded by and facilitated by 14 partner organizations across the African region. A global reach has been achieved through online workshops and participation in international conferences.

Quelimane City Municipality/Mozambique

The Quelimane Municipality has launched a campaign against soil degradation to improve the quality and quantity of local food and reduce dumping. The priority was to strengthen urban and peri-urban resilience but also to rethink the entire food supply chain sustainably: from regenerating soil, to using more sustainable and innovative agricultural techniques, to transporting and selling of food, and disposing of it. The municipality addressed the need to improve public services and infrastructure: rainwater drainage canals were installed, roads were paved, and public health facilities were constructed.

The project strengthened the capacity of the waste collection services, re-designed the primary food market to improve the collection of waste, and worked to render the floodwaters cleaner. This resulted in safer land to cultivate and high-quality food products. Three micro-enterprises were created to manage and recycle waste, especially organic material, and a composting centre to promote the use of compost among farmers and improve the quality of the urban agricultural harvest.

Sahara Sahel Foods/Niger

Sahara Sahel Foods (SSF) utilizes produce of native undomesticated species drawn from the ancient foods of the hunter-gatherer cultures. These perennial foods, dismissed by successive Arab and European colonizers, are not only ideally adapted to the harsh climatic conditions of the northern Sahel but display nutritional profiles that are far superior to those of the cereals constituting the mainstay of the local diet. Most of these fruits and nuts grow on indigenous shrubs and trees, and making them valuable again restores local inhabitants desire to regenerate, nurture and protect them.

Josef Garvi founded Sahara Sahel Foods in 2014. Today, SSF offers around 60 products, including oils, pseudo-cereals, drinks, sauce leaves, spices, nuts, fruit powders, pastries and jams processed from 19 different local plants. The enterprise works with a pool of 1,500 women collectors from some 70 villages across east-central Niger. Website:

WHYFARM/Trindad and Tobago

Alpha Sennon established WHYFARM [We Help You(th) Farm] in 2015 to inspire and empower young people and women to be change-makers through agriculture. He pioneered agricultural educational entertainment and introduced the first food and nutrition security superheroes. The heroes are part of a tangible on the ground engagement campaign that teaches children the importance of and how they can contribute to food and nutrition security. It uses creative methods that incorporate visual and performing arts such as animations, songs, poetry, and drama shared through social media and comic books to creatively inspire young people to engage in agriculture in the rural southern village in Trinidad and Tobago its headquarters is located and beyond.


Yuhan Kimberly Ltd "Keep Mongolia Green project"/Republic of Korea

Tujiin Nars, 350km north of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbataar, is a vast pine tree forest. A large forest fire in 1998 consumed 32,600ha of the forest, and illegal logging and pest infestation ripped out another 10,000ha. Upon request of the Mongolian government, YK stepped in, and over the span of 12 years, from 2003 and 2014, it successfully planted 10,130,000 trees of Scots pine in an area of 3,250ha.

The forest created and managed by YK serves as a valuable habitat for dozens of species, including wildflowers, birds, wolves, and bears, with the forest's biodiversity rapidly improving. There has been a significant improvement in soil nutrients and water retention, accompanied by increased carbon the area stores and sequesters. Tujiin Nars has become a major place of hands-on ecological education for elementary and middle school students and a popular destination for a honeymoon and a wedding photo. Link to the project: Mongolian forest restoration to prevent desertification

Mr. Okbay Tela Bayreu/Eritrea

Okbay Tela Bayreu has combatted desertification on rugged terrain and converted it into an oasis with different agricultural products. He levelled land to conserve soil and water and constructed hillside terraces, and check dams. He constructed 320m3 of check dams and around 1.3km of terraces to retain water in his field. He also understood that the annual rainfall in that area is insufficient to cultivate anything but only seasonal crops. So after breaking the hillsides into series of strips of land using bench terraces and after planting around 10,000 seedlings of trees in the upper catchment, he searched for a good site where he could build a dam. He constructed a dam with a capacity of 15,000m3, and he dug five wells downstream of it. He had never experienced how underground water can recharge through the construction of water retention structures until he constructed a dam and saw the yield of the wells downstream. He then installed pumping mechanisms to distribute water to the different plots of land.

Okbay has become the living example of what a working man can do if he wants to. He influenced his community, who were amazed by the work he was doing. He influenced many more through the broadcast of national media.

Mr. Arcenio Honorato Castillo Vera/Ecuador

Arcenio Honorato Castillo Vera is an organic farmer who understands the relationship between soil, water, and vegetation. On his farm called Marianita, he produces healthy and nutritious food. He has an organic garden where he produces vegetables and greens. In agroforestry plots, he complements fruit plants with legumes and Creole coffee. His fondness for using native seeds stands out, a situation that has allowed him to form a small seed bank with many varieties and sources of corn and legumes, mainly beans.

Efficient water management is another characteristic of ' 'Arcenio's farm. It has a water reservoir of more than 150 m3 that allows it to produce throughout the year. A drip irrigation system helps to optimize the usage of water that is scarcely available in the area.

Dr. Samuel Francke-Campaña/Chile

Dr. Samuel Francke -Campaña headed a number of international cooperation projects, including FAO, IBR, DFID / ODA (UK), GTZ / GIZ (DE), and JICA. As an academic and associate professor, he has worked at the Universities of Chile, contributing with 130 publications and ten books.

Dr. Francke has conducted research and fieldwork on soil fertility, soil management and restoration, erosion and desertification control, integrated watershed management, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change, and risk reduction. He has been carrying out activities at national and international levels for four decades.

Since 1995, Dr Francke heads the Watershed Management and Soils Conservation Department of the National Forest Service (CONAF), Ministry of Agriculture. His outstanding achievement has been the formulation, implementation, and promotion of a participatory model of integrated land conservation for the generation of ecosystem goods and services. In this way, Dr Francke has achieved his purpose of saving and restoring degraded lands and soils throughout the national territory. His work has been replicated in other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through his work, they half-million desertification and eroded lands with soil and water conservation technics and with the afforestation of 5 billion trees that benefit 27000 small owners of micro watershed.

Land for Live Award China

In addition, the Land for Life Award set up a special Land for Life Kubuqi Special Award to honour outstanding actions by individuals/groups in Chinaled by the main sponsor of the Land for Life Programme, Elion Foundation, and the State Forestry Administration, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Provincial Governmental of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

This special prize is devoted to celebrating the exceptional commitment to sustainable land management in China.

The winners will be announced during the global observance on World Day to Combat Desertification virtual event on 17 June 2021.

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