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Healthy land is key for a productive and sustainable future. Having access to healthy land ensures food security and better livelihoods. It allows us to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change and secure a bright future for our children.  

At UNCCD we recognize healthy land as the backbone for a healthy plant. And this is why we advocate for protecting and restoring land by adopting sustainable land management (SLM) practices. 

SLM uses natural resources and technologies to ensure that land is productive and is used in a sustainable manner. It encompasses a huge range of activities such as restoring degraded soil to improving soil water storage. 

The exact application of SLM depends on the type of land. This is why land use types provide a helpful lens to approach SLM and help us understand what actions are needed to reduce or reverse the damage.  

There are SLM options for all ecosystems, and its versatility means it’s an effective solution to desertification, land degradation and drought around the world. 

One way to approach SLM is to apply it to particular land use types. Land use describes the type of activity carried out on a unit of land, in urban, rural and conservation settings. 

Below is a brief description of different land use types: 


Croplands are used for the cultivation of crops, and constitute one third of all agricultural land. This type of land is used for annual and perennial crops as well as temporary fallow land. It also includes arable land which is normally used for cultivation of annual crops and could be temporarily used for forage crops or grazing as part of an annual crop-pasture rotation. 

Find examples of SLM practices for Cropland


Forests and woodlands are lands where the predominant land use and canopy cover consist of trees. This includes natural or semi-natural forests composed mainly of indigenous trees, plantations, or with monoculture or mixed tree varieties. The area could be used for various purposes, such as conservation, wood production, or recreation. 

Find examples of SLM practices for Forests and Woodlands

Grazing lands

Grazing lands are lands where grass or grass-like vegetation grows and is mainly use for animal production. Grazing lands cover a broad range of land: 

pastures: a field covered with grass or herbage and suitable for livestock grazing   savannahs: flat grassland in tropical or subtropical regions with scattered trees  steppes: temperate or tropical grassland that only has trees near lakes and rivers  hayfields: a field where grass or alfalfa grows  grasslands: a field used as grazing land 

Find examples of SLM practices for Grazing lands

Mixed land use

Mixed land use is a system that combines two or more types of land use within the same land unit at a spatial or temporal scale. Examples of mixed land use include agroforestry (cropland and forest/woodland), agro-pastoralism (cropland and grazing land), agro-silvo-pastoralism (cropland, grazing land and forest/woodland), and silvo-pastoralism (forest/woodland and grazing land).

Find examples of SLM practices for Mixed land

Other land uses

Other land uses comprise of usage that does not fall into the other land-use types mentioned above. These includes mines and extractive industries, settlements, roads, infrastructure network, and wastelands, deserts and glaciers. 

The WOCAT SLM database has an extensive range of sustainable land management technologies for other land uses.

Visit the WOCAT SLM database to view these technologies