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Best practices in sustainable land management

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Examples from the SPI report

In 2017, UNCCD’s Science Policy Interface (SPI) published a report  showcasing several dozen examples of individual sustainable land management (SLM) best practices selected from scientific journal articles, research papers and SLM databases (including WOCAT). This information is categorised by land use type and technology group. 

The WOCAT global database on SLM

The WOCAT database is one of the largest SLM global databases. The database contains more than 2,180 SLM practices from 130 countries, in twelve different languages, including best practices reported by UNCCD Parties. 

Best practice examples
Integrated production and pest management

Integrated production and pest management (IPPM) curbs environmental degradation caused by current farming practices (intensive and extensive), reducing the negative impact of pesticides on the environment and on human health. IPPM works with all available techniques for combatting pests, while eliminating or keeping pesticide use at economically justified levels.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Cropland
Integrated production and pest management
Application of biological agents to increase crop resistance to salinity

Use of biological agents (various types of symbiotic mycorrhizae fungi) as plant salt tolerance facilitators and soil amendments. The technology is applied as an effective agronomic measure to increase plant salt tolerance, reduce soil-borne diseases that affect plant roots, and increase of water and nutrient absorption. The technology prevents or mitigates soil degradation by improving the subsoil structure and can potentially decrease agricultural inputs, increase subsoil faunal diversity, and combat soil salinity, one of the main soil degradation problems in coastal zones. Application of biological agents helps to keep plants healthy, thus increasing crop production and reducing production risks.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Cropland
Application of biological agents to increase crop resistance to salinity
Use of phyto-pesticides

Using environmentally friendly phyto-pesticides, made from natural plant extracts to help combat pests and diseases. Plant extracts include potatoes, onions or tomato stalks, garlic, pepper, dandelion, common wormwood and thorn apple extracts. The overall goal of phyto-pesticides is to combat pests and diseases, using an environmentally friendly, natural method without the need for chemical pesticides. They do not affect the surrounding flora and fauna and preserve biological organisms in the soil. This is an easy-to-use and low-cost technology, which mainly requires the collection and drying of plant parts to make the pesticides. It can be used in any environment during the growing period.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Cropland
Use of phyto-pesticides
Ecological engineering for biological pest control

Ecological engineering is aimed primarily at the regulation of pest species, through the provision of habitats for their natural enemies, thereby increasing biodiversity. Other ecosystem services, such as pollination and cultural services, may simultaneously be enhanced by using the same measures.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Cropland
Ecological engineering for biological pest control
Trees as buffer zones

Trees are planted at strategic locations; indigenous trees – “wildlings", which are considered endangered species, were preserved. Trees serve as shelter/habitat for wildlife species such as birds and can absorb carbon from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees also provide an aesthetic value as well as temporary shade for workers.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Cropland
Trees as buffer zones
Management for forest fire prevention

The main purposes of thinning dense pine forests are the prevention of fires by reducing the fuel load and its continuity, and to improve pine regeneration by eliminating the competition between different species. As a result, the quality of the plants is improved and the amount of dead or sick plants is reduced, which is essential to ensure a healthy forest. This also leads to a higher resistance to pests which in turn again decreases the risk of fire. Vegetation removal produces fresh vegetation growth, therefore more diverse and nutritious fodder is provided to animals in the cleared areas. On average the forest is thinned until reaching a density of 800-1200 trees/ha. Dead or sick plants and some fire-prone shrubs are removed, whereas some species are kept to promote a more fire-resistant vegetation composition. Part of the tree and shrub residues is used to cover the soil as mulch, which results in ecological benefits, such as increasing soil moisture, erosion prevention, enhancement of nutrient cycling. Note: For this SLM technology case, the SPI report on Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change, refers to: Jucker, M., Liniger, H., Valdecantos, A., and Schwilch, G., 2016. Impacts of Land Management on the Resilience of Mediterranean Dry Forests to Fire. Sustainability, 8, 981: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/su8100981.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Forest/Woodland
Management for forest fire prevention
Reducing fire expansion

Firebreaks act as a barrier to stop or slow the progress of fires and allow firefighters to better position themselves to operate. Gaps of vegetation of about 5 to 7 meters are created at a distance of every 50 to 75 meters along the contour line of the forested areas. Note: For this SLM technology case, the SPI report on Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change, refers to: Xanthopoulos, G., et al. 2006. Forest fuels management in Europe. In ‘Fuels Management – How to Measure Success’, 28–30 March 2006, Portland, OR. (Eds PL Andrews, BW Butler) USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Proceedings RMRS-P-41, 29–46.

Fire, pest and diseases control
Forest/Woodland
Reducing fire expansion