Reducing land health risks
Land degradation is recognized as a global environmental and development problem but there is a lack of location specific evidence to guide actions. It is a global threat to habitat, economy and society, and is the overarching environmental issue of concern in Africa, threatening food security, ecosystems and livelihoods. However, current measurement and information systems on land degradation in developing countries are grossly inadequate for the task of planning and evaluating land health and agroforestry policy and practice.
The World Agroforestry Centre’s Global Research Project on Land Health aims to develop and promote scientifically rigorous methods for measuring and monitoring land health,assessing land health risks, and targeting and evaluating agroforestry and other sustainable land management interventions to improve ecosystem health and human wellbeing. The project draws heavily on science principles used in the public health sector, where surveillance is the main source of information steering policy and practice. Accurate measuring and monitoring of changes and improvements in the health of populations is closely integrated with statistical methods to form a scientific basis for policy development, priority setting and management.
Key objectives are to:
- Develop multi-scale and widely usable land health surveillance methods that can provide systematic information on where land problems exist, what are the major land health risks, whom they affect, where programmatic and prevention activities should be directed, and how well they are working.
- Use surveillance methods to: (i) quantify and map major risks to land health in the tropics; (ii) target land management and agroforestry interventions to reduce and reverse these risks at different scales; and (iii) evaluate cost effectiveness and outcomes of intervention programmes.
- Develop national capacity in operational land health surveillance methods and tools.
The main expected outcome is that governments and development agencies use evidenced-based methods to (i) target policies and practices that reduce and reverse risks to land health and improve land productivity, and (ii) evaluate outcomes to accelerate learning on what works where.