Land Degradation Neutrality
Dr. Thérèse Yarde reviewing participants’ group exercises.

The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Section participated in a national Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target-setting workshop on 15 March 2023 facilitated by Dr. Thérèse Yarde. This seminar gave an introduction to the concept of LDN, its indicators, and its role in tracking and reporting on countries’ land health.

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) was first introduced by the United Nations in 2015 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It aims to achieve a balance between the degradation of land resources and their restoration to maintain or improve the productivity, biodiversity, and ecosystem services that lands provide. LDN focuses on preventing and reducing land degradation, reversing land degradation, and generating positive outcomes for people and the environment. These are achieved through sustainable land management practices, strategic restoration projects, and predictive governance and policy frameworks.

LDN is used as a framework for developing and implementing national strategies and action plans to combat land degradation, particularly in areas that are vulnerable to anthropogenic activities like deforestation, urbanisation or unsustainable agricultural practices. It can further be used to guide investments in land management and restoration projects, and to monitor progress towards achieving land degradation neutrality targets. It uses three indicators – land cover change, land productivity, and soil organic carbon content – to track changes in land status. Land use and productivity are monitored remotely using data from satellite imagery while soil organic carbon must be tested on-the-ground.

Land cover classifications in 2000
Land cover classifications in 2019

In the workshop it was reported that in Barbados between the period 2000 and 2019, 55% of land was considered stable, 23% was considered to be under improving conditions, and 20% were degraded with a further 2% classified as being data deficient. Most of the degraded land represented change in use from cropland and grassland to artificial surfaces (buildings, tarmac, concrete, etc.) and other land (e.g., quarries). Lands which showed improvement were mainly from grassland to productive cropland. In 2019, the land cover classes were mainly grassland (28%) and cropland (26%), followed by artificial surfaces (17%), tree cover (16%), other lands (12%), and finally wetland (1%).

LDN is a useful tool for achieving sustainable development as land degradation has significant and complicated interrelations with food production, water resources, and climate change. By adopting LDN strategies, countries can work towards ensuring that the land remains healthy and productive for the future.

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