Decision Support for Mainstreaming and Scaling Out Sustainable Land Management (DS-SLM)

sustainable land management
Terraces in the loess plateau of China. Photo: Hanspeter Liniger, CDE

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is crucial to minimize land degradation, rehabilitate degraded areas, ensure optimal use of land resources, and ensure optimal provisioning of ecosystem services for all. SLM is key to conservation and sustainable use of soils, water and biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as preserving food security, nutrition, and sustainable livelihoods.

Overall project goal

Roughly 52% of the world’s agriculture land is moderately or severely affected by land degradation. Another 2 billion hectares of land – an area twice the size of China – are thought to be seriously degraded, in some cases irreversibly. Land degradation reduces productivity and food security, disrupts vital ecosystem functions, harms biodiversity and water resources, and increases carbon emissions and vulnerability to climate change.

The goal of our DS-SLM project is to help halt and reverse global trends of land degradation. We aim to help combat desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD) worldwide by scaling up sustainable land management (SLM) best practices based on evidence-based, informed decision-making.

We seek to increase the provision of ecosystem goods and services and to enhance food security in countries and regions affected by DLDD. We do this by promoting SLM, integrated resource management, and efficient use of natural resources.

project team ds-slm
Global DS-SLM launch workshop. Photo: WOCAT


Our project builds on a joint effort by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), drawing on FAO-LADA (Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands) and WOCAT-DESIRE (Desertification Mitigation and Remediation of Land) projects and relevant experiences. Together, the FAO and WOCAT have developed a “methodological framework for decision support for mainstreaming and scaling out SLM” that offers a detailed description of activities, tools, and methods to be used to facilitate SLM decision-making. The framework will be applied by our 15 partner countries and adapted to their particular needs.

The DS-SLM framework enables users to make informed decisions for mainstreaming and scaling up SLM. It does this by providing them in-depth knowledge, understanding, and analysis of: the effects of land use change and management; the effectiveness of SLM responses; and why, where, how, what, and when to invest in SLM. Stakeholders including national and local decision-makers are brought together to evaluate, negotiate, and choose specific SLM strategies for implementation based on compilation of knowledge and select criteria.

A flexible, modular DS-SLM framework enables varying levels of implementation by different countries according to their context and needs.

Summary of the results

The global DS-SLM launch workshop took place at FAO Headquarters in Rome 8–11 September 2015. Fourteen countries participated, each sending 2–3 representatives. The launch was followed by the first project steering committee meeting, centered on agreeing on a work plan and organizing implementation among the national project coordinators, namely the FAO and WOCAT, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the UNCCD Secretariat.

Project duration: 2015–2018

The DS-SLM project is coordinated and implemented by the FAO Land and Water Division (NRL) and the CDE/WOCAT Secretariat in close consultation with Executing Agencies in 15 countries in Africa (Lesotho, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia); Asia (Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand); Europe and Central Asia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Uzbekistan); and Latin America (Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama).