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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Watershed Physical Processes Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #392121

Research Project: Managing Water and Sediment Movement in Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research

Title: Progress and challenges in sustainable land management initiatives: a global review

item HAREGEWEYN, NIGUSSIE - Tottori University
item TSUNEKAWA, ATSUSHI - Tottori University
item TSUBO, MITSURU - Tottori University
item FENTA, AYELE - Tottori University
item EBABU, KINDIYE - Tottori University
item VANMAERCKE, MATTHIAS - Catholic University Of Leuven
item BORRELLI, PASQUALE - University Of Pavia
item PANAGOS, PANOS - European Commission-Joint Research Centre (JRC)
item BERIHUN, MULATU - Bahir Dar University
item Langendoen, Eddy
item NIGUSSIE, ZERIHUN - Bahir Dar University
item SETARGIE, TADESUAL - Tottori University
item MAURICE, BENEDICT - Tottori University
item MINICHIL, TAYE - Tottori University
item ELIAS, ASRES - Tottori University
item SUN, JIAN - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item POESEN, JEAN - Catholic University Of Leuven

Submitted to: Science of the Total Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/3/2022
Publication Date: 2/1/2023
Citation: Haregeweyn, N., Tsunekawa, A., Tsubo, M., Fenta, A.A., Ebabu, K., Vanmaercke, M., Borrelli, P., Panagos, P., Berihun, M., Langendoen, E.J., Nigussie, Z., Setargie, T.A., Maurice, B.N., Minichil, T., Elias, A., Sun, J., Poesen, J. 2023. Progress and challenges in sustainable land management initiatives: a global review. Science of the Total Environment. 858(3), 160027.

Interpretive Summary: Globally, much effort has been expended to adopt and develop sustainable land management (SLM) practices to mitigate land degradation. Nevertheless, a comprehensive review on the prospects and challenges of SLM practices and associated research is lacking. ARS researchers from Oxford, MS, in collaboration with researchers from Belgium, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, assessed the progress and challenges in SLM dissemination and research making use of the global WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) Network SLM database and the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Strong linkages were found between SLM practice implementation and regional aridity index, level of human development, initiating stakeholder, and financial support. Importantly, 75% of the 60 countries experiencing high soil erosion rates (>10 tons per hectare per year) have poor SLM dissemination and research activities. We recommend further research on how to strengthen institutional collaboration among relevant stakeholders (SLM implementers, researchers, publishers, and planners) to facilitate scientific data and tools on the performance of SLM practices for development decisions. Such research would help integrate knowledge held by academic researchers and non-academic participants, such as land managers and the public, thereby making available evidence-based and successful technologies for upscaling to regions with similar socioeconomic and environmental settings.

Technical Abstract: Sustainable land management (SLM) is widely regarded as the key to reducing rates of land degradation, preventing desertification, and restoring degraded lands. Many efforts have been made worldwide by various stakeholders to adopt and/or develop various SLM practices. Nevertheless, a comprehensive review on the spatial distribution, prospects, and challenges of SLM practices and research is lacking. To address this gap, we gathered information from a global SLM database provided by the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) and two bibliographic databases of academic research. Over 1900 SLM practices and 1181 academic research papers from 129 and 90 countries, respectively, were compiled and analyzed. Relatively better SLM dissemination was observed in dry subhumid countries and countries with medium scores on the Human Development Index (HDI), whereas dissemination and research were both lower in humid countries with low HDI values. Cropland was the main land use type targeted in both dissemination and research; degradation caused by water erosion and mitigation aimed at water erosion were also main targets. Other dominant land use types (e.g., grazing) and SLM purposes (e.g., economic benefits) have received relatively less research attention compared to their dissemination. Overall, over 75% of the 60 countries experiencing high soil erosion rates (>10 t ha'1 yr'1) also have low HDI scores, as well as poor SLM dissemination and research; moreover, evidence-based SLM dissemination is limited in these countries. The limitation of research evidence can be addressed in the short term through integrating existing scientific research and implemented SLM databases. There is, however, a great need for additional comprehensive studies of country-specific SLM challenges and prospects to create appropriate evidence-based SLM dissemination strategies to achieve multiple SLM benefits.