Land Degradation Neutrality

Land Degradation Neutrality

What does LDN stand for? What is its ultimate goal? And how can existing UNCCD progress indicators be linked or integrated into a LDN conceptual framework?

These questions were answered by Sven Walter from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
(UNCCD), and Carolina Granzio Gallo from Silva Mediterranea at the 6th Mediterranean Forest Week plenary session that focused on enabling conditions and monitoring systems for LDN.

Land degradation neutrality (LDN) is a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services, as well as enhance food security, remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.

So, how to define land degradations? By using three indicators:

  • Land Productivity
  • Land Cover and coverage change
  • Carbon Stock

These indicators are calculated separately and obey the rule: One out, all out (1 OAO). For example, if one of the three indicators indicates a significant negative change, change is considered a loss. If at least one indicator shows a significant positive change and none showed a significant negative change, change is considered a gain.

Monitoring progress towards LDN targets occurs by the computation of the three sub-indicators via a tiered approach:

  • Tier 1: Global/Regional earth observations, geospatial information, and modeling.
  • Tier 2: National Statistics based on data acquired for administrative or natural reference units and
    national earth observations.
  • Tier 3: Field surveys, assessments and ground measurements.

This approach enables national authorities to use methods consistent with their capacities, resources, and data
availability. A new tool that has made possible special data collection through Google Earth giving a large
amount of high-resolution imagery is Collect Earth.

Collect Earth is a tool mainly used to:

  • Support national forestry inventories
  • Asses land use change
  • Validate existing maps in countries
  • Monitor the collateral and urban lands
  • Qualify forestation, reforestation, and desertification.

A case study in Cape Verde supporting LDN by Collect Earth showed that the data collected suggested that

4 000 plots be assessed. The results showed that land cover change, amounting to 15 000 hectares, were gaining
quality against 2 000 that were being degraded, and 8 000 hectares were identified as losing productivity. All data collected was used to establish the LDN baseline to agree on LDN targets, to identify LDN hotspots,
and to study the developments of restoration and LDN production.

Although the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has trained more than 2 000
professionals in 40+ countries, the numbers of international inventories have immensely increased.

So far, 38 countries have submitted forest emission levels, but the challenge is that political decision makers do
not take into account what is important.

What is important? Attaining a 100% precise estimation without the 10% error margin. This is why transparency on how estimations are made, using special technologies and satellite imagery, is key to better monitoring and management.

Blogpost by Ghewa Ghtaimy