The concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) is a new approach receiving considerable interest because of its potential to address land degradation. Implementing LDN presents a number of challenges primarily concerned with the choice of scales of operation at which to apply it and then, monitoring and assessing degradation status and trends at these scales. In the absence of studies that apply the concept to local scales and engage local stakeholders, our study was undertaken in the Gilgel-Abay watershed of northwest Ethiopia using sites that equate to a local landscape scale (10-1000 km(2)) at which decisions about land use are made. Combining participatory mapping, farmer interviews and a field survey of soil erosion prevalence, our objectives were to: (i) understand local perceptions of land degradation and restoration activities; (ii) assess their implications for LDN, and (iii) explore the utility of engaging local land users in the assessment of land degradation and restoration activities. Our findings demonstrate that engaging land users can provide a comprehensive overview of land degradation and restoration activities at local scales; that land users may not share the same priorities, in terms of where, when and how to address degradation, as one another, or with other actors involved in restoration initiatives, which implies a need for negotiation; and that the impacts of restoration activities are likely to be socially differentiated. This makes it important to understand how livelihoods interact with different restoration interventions and to take measures to ensure that striving for LDN does not disadvantage the most vulnerable people. Based on these findings, we propose three guiding strategies for implementing LDN at local scales: negotiate priorities and incentivize action; match options to context; and, co-produce knowledge and indicators.
Exclosures: a restorative land use intervention that promotes the regeneration of natural forest vegetation through the exclusion of livestock and agriculture … While both SWC structures [not coded for] and exclosures can be used to reduce and reverse degradation, within our study area SWC structures tended to be applied to land that showed declining productivity but were still heavily utilised. Exclosures on the other hand tended to be established on severely degraded land (i.e., very low productivity and shallow, stony soils). In this way, SWC structures can be seen as interventions used to reduce the rate of degradation and exclosures as an intervention used to reverse severe land de- gradation. ... East Zelsea having an 80 ha exclosure established in 2012 and Lalibela a 7 ha exclosure established in 2011. Both exclosures are protected by local by-laws and managed through a “cut-and-carry” system, where grasses are harvested and taken to stall fed animals. In East Zelsea the whole community is allowed to harvest grass from the exclosure. In Lalibela usufruct rights over the exclosure have been assigned to a group of landless households who use it for income generating activities such as livestock fattening, beekeeping and selling fodder to other members of the community.
|Climate change impacts||Effect of Nbs on CCI||Effect measures|
|Reduced water availability||Positive||Food security/Local economies – coded together because outcomes to do with agri production are used for subsistence and income generation No quantitative measure; perceptions of local farmers derived from interviews “Other benefits associated with exclosures included fodder production” [positive] “Farmers with many livestock or little or no land relied heavily on communal grazing and were strongly opposed to the establishment of exclosures…. The establishment of exclosures had resulted in resource contraction, in terms of a reduction in the area of available grazing, for those owning many animals or with little or no land. Such land users opposed the establishment of exclosures.” *Opportunity costs [Negative] Water security No quantitative measure; perceptions of local farmers derived from interviews “the reappearance of streams associated with groundwater recharge.” Adaptation Soil erosion (an indicator of land degradation, in part caused by heavy rainfall): soil erosion prevalence (% of observations of soil erosion within exclosures) + perceptions of local farmers derived from interviews “farmers interviewed in both sites perceived exclosures and SWC structures as effective in reducing erosion.”|
|Loss of food production||Mixed results||Agricultural production: no quantitative measure; perceptions of local farmers derived from interviews “Other benefits associated with exclosures included fodder production” [Positive effect] however; **Note that for agri production (fodder) the intervention increased productivity hence coded as positive but the net effect across landscape may be negative for some farmers who have been negatively effected by exclusion of their livestock from grazing. because these are implementation outcomes though and not from flow of ES, not taken into account for climate impact. this is accounted for in social outcomes hence coded as ['mixed']|
|Soil erosion||Positive||Soil erosion: soil erosion prevalence (% of observations of soil erosion within exclosures) + perceptions of local farmers derived from interviews “farmers interviewed in both sites perceived exclosures and SWC structures as effective in reducing erosion.” [Positive effect]|
two kebeles, the smallest administrative unit of Ethiopia, located within the Gilgel-Abay watershed of the Amhara National Regional State of Ethiopia - The selected kebeles, Lalibela (58 km2) and East Zelsea (16 km2)