Land is one of the most critical resources for the rural poor dependent on farming for their livelihoods. Today, about 2 million hectares of rainfed and irrigated agricultural lands are lost to production every year due to severe land degradation, among other factors.
This degradation is a critical link in a downward spiral with respect to poverty. Poor land quality compromises farm incomes, resulting in ongoing poverty and a lack of resources to invest in increasing land and labor productivity, condemning farmers to repeat the cycle often worsening degradation. Inappropriate land management, particularly in areas with high population densities and growth rates, further increases loss of productivity. This in turn affects food security and the potential for rural on and off-farm income generation.
The challenge for developing countries is to develop land management programs to increase the availability of high-quality fertile lands in areas where population growth is high, poverty is endemic, and existing institutional capacity is weak.
The Rural Land Resources Management (LRM) Program, at the World Bank, develops and promotes knowledge-based technical, social, institutional and policy choices for our clients, which improve management of this critical resource. These choices focus on:
Developing sustainable land management through improved land tenure systems and community natural resources management;
Raising the profile of the risk and vulnerability impacts of climate change on communities' natural resources, (land/water) and promote appropriate adaptation mechanisms;
Mainstreaming of integrated approaches to Land and Water resources management for food security and poverty reduction;
Creating and strengthening an enabling environment, which will enhance national, regional, and global capacities to implement the convention to combat desertification and restore degraded lands.
Sustainable Land Management (SLM)
SLM is defined as a knowledge-based procedure that helps integrate land, water, biodiversity, and environmental management (including input and output externalities) to meet rising food and fiber demands while sustaining ecosystem services and livelihoods. SLM is necessary to meet the requirements of a growing population. Improper land management leads to land degradation and a reduction in the productive and service (biodiversity niches, hydrology, carbon sequestration) functions of watersheds and landscapes. In layman’s terms, SLM involves:
- Preserving and enhancing the productive capabilities of land in cropped and grazed areas—that is, upland areas, down slope areas, and flat and bottom lands; sustaining productive forest areas and potentially commercial and noncommercial forest reserves; and maintaining the integrity of watersheds for water supply and hydropower generation needs and water conservation zones and the capability of aquifers to serve farm and other productive activities.
- Actions to stop and reverse degradation—or at least to mitigate the adverse effects of earlier misuse—which is increasingly important in the uplands and watersheds, especially those where pressure from the resident populations is severe and where the destructive consequences of upland degradation are being felt in far more densely populated areas “downstream.”
More information on sustainable land management …