Regional conference explores linkages between LDN and integrated erosion control in the South Caucasus

Kazbegi/Georgia
UNCCD News

Kazbegi, Georgia – The regional conference “Integrated Erosion Control – from local experience to a vision for the South Caucasus,” organized by GIZ South Caucasus, Regional Environmental Center for South Caucasus and the UNCCD Secretariat, took place on 17-19 October 2018. Around 80 participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia gathered at the picturesque mountain settlement to explore the concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and ways in which integrated soil erosion control and prevention can help achieve LDN on the national and regional levels. 

In her opening speech, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia Ms. Nino Tandilashvili mentioned the increasing soil degradation in the country and emphasized the importance of the regional dialogue for solving common problems. The Director of GIZ IBIS Programme Mr. Hans-Joachim Lipp shared a concern that soil erosion is a “silent catastrophe” which should get more attention from the decision-makers and the public. He also referred to LDN response hierarchy and stressed that prevention is more cost-efficient than rehabilitation activities. 

The participants also had the opportunity to learn about the work of UNCCD and its role as a SDGs Target 15.3 custodian agency. The LDN concept has been presented as s system of integrated land use planning and practical local solutions that provides a variety of sustainable land management (SLM) techniques for various intervention levels, such as avoidance or minimizing and reverting land degradation. The UNCCD National Focal Points from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia led the discussion on how LDN national baseline and targets have been formulated in their countries. 

focal points from caucasus
NFP of Armenia Mr. Ashot Vardevanyan, NFP of Azerbaijan Mr. Sadiq Salmanov, NFP of Georgia Ms. Nino Chikovani (left to right)

Georgia has presented its experience in LDN integration in the municipal land use planning. The guidelines on LDN integration in the spatial planning developed for the conditions of one municipality will be up-scaled for use in four more municipalities in various ecologic zones. The importance of the locally relevant indicators such as vegetation density and yield productivity has been demonstrated, and the experience shows that further consideration should be given to designing two levels of indicators –global and local. The experience of Georgia can provide an excellent example for the implementation of LDN in the countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as globally. 

Various knowledge platforms focusing on best practices in sustainable land management have been presented during the knowledge management session, among them the UNCCD Knowledge Hub and the WOCAT database for the SLM practices, as well as PANORAMA and K-Link. 

At the the SLM marketplace, the participants have demonstrated successful techniques for soil erosion control, including afforestation on eroded land, pile walls, application of hay and grass mulch and manure and solar-powered electric fences that protect the sites from animals. 

A handbook on Integrated Erosion Control in Armenia, prepared by the Government of Armenia, GIZ and Austrian Development Cooperation has also been presented at the conference.