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Better land management - better economic, social and ecological sustainability. FAO


18.06.2020
“Armenia needs to increase its agricultural production and thus integrate unutilized land. Sustainable land management supports this approach.” Raimund Jehle, FAO Representative to Armenia

New project is designed to support Armenia to achieve land degradation neutrality through restoration of degraded landscapes

17 June 2020, Yerevan, Armenia – A new FAO project has kicked off helping Armenia achieve land degradation neutrality commitments through sustainable land management and restoration of degraded landscapes.

It should assist the government, among others, in protecting the country’s degraded croplands and pastures by scaling up improved land management practices and in better responding to the challenges posed by climate change.

The project was launched at a virtual inception workshop today in Yerevan. Participants were updated on project preparation, project sites, financial aspects, project design as well as discussed ways to identify synergies and areas of collaboration with different partners.

Around 40 officials and specialists from line ministries, together with representatives of international organizations, Armenian National Agrarian University, Cadastre Committee, and marz administrations participated in the workshop.

Currently, about 81 percent of Armenia’s territory is exposed by desertification driven by both, natural and anthropogenic factors. Anthropogenic causes of degradation include inefficient agricultural practices, illegal logging, overuse of groundwater resources (artesian wells), and soil contamination, as well as mining, urban development and road construction.

Almost half of all cropland in the country is affected by water erosion, while wind erosion can be seen in small cropland areas in the Ararat valley. More than the half of all pastures and hayfields are degraded, caused both by over- and under-grazing.

This project will support the country in achieving all the four targets of its land degradation neutrality strategy, including stopping cropland degradation and promoting agroecology; afforestation and/or reforesting two-third of the degraded land; stopping deforestation and improving forest management all across the country; stopping overgrazing and improve grassland management all across the country.

In addition to land degradation, climate change poses a serious risk to the vitality of the agriculture sectors in the country, exacerbating land degradation processes in the country unless action is taken.

To overcome the multiple challenges to sustainable land management in the country, the Government of Armenia is committed to set and implement measures that meet the global commitments of LDN, contributing to goal 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve LDN by 2030.

“The COVID-19 crisis has already shown the importance of a functioning and sustainable food system for each country and the resilience of smallholders to such shocks. Therefore, sustainable land management and eliminating degradation has gained further importance and to put in place appropriate policies,” said Raimund Jehle, FAO Representative to Armenia. “Armenia needs to increase its agricultural production and thus integrate unutilized land. Sustainable land management supports this approach.”

The FAO project will follow a landscape approach in line with Global Environmental Facility’s (GEF) vision to foster sustainable integrated landscapes. Working at landscape level allows issues to be addressed in a multifaceted way, integrating sectors, involving partners and working at different scales – tackling the underlying causes of degradation and challenges related food security and not just the symptoms.  Landscape and territorial approaches that focus on people and their aspirations are among the most effective ways to address development needs while restoring and protecting natural resources. In this context, the project will work to formulate comprehensive land use planning to rationalize land use in a way that addresses interconnectedness and trade-offs across multiple ecosystems, promote good governance to align policy directives at the national and sub-national level, and promote innovations in sustainable land management.

To remove the barriers of sustainable land management and implementing land degradation neutrality in Armenia, the project will take a three-pronged approach starting with strengthening the enabling environment for land degradation neutrality, followed by scaling up resilient sustainable land management practices in degraded landscapes.