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UNCCD Land for Life Award Winners for 2013 (India, Mexico, Africa): Practical, Doable, Magic

Educating small-holder farmers in India

Every year the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) presents awards and supportive prize-money to projects that have had a positive impact on combating desertification and restoring watersheds and the hydrological cycle. This year’s awards went to excellent projects in India, Mexico and Africa. Watch the fantastic videos below, from John D. Liu and the rest of the EEMP team, to find our more and to be inspired. (Note: The first video you may have seen before — but the second and third have only just arrived to me.)


The first prize award of USD 40,000 goes to Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), a non-governmental organization in India, which was ranked top of the 137 applicants from 62 countries.

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), India

When land is shared by everyone, who is responsible for its well-being? Working through traditional democratic institutions in more than 4,000 villages, FES has motivated communities to actively engage in land stewardship, changing how people gather firewood and graze their animals on common lands. By using the land restoration techniques introduced by FES, soil fertility, biodiversity and ground water availability has improved in over 200,000 hectares of common property rangelands, with benefits to an estimated 1.7 million people across India. Their work has also influenced national laws for common land management.


Preparing compost in Mexico

The second place was a tie between Consejo Civil Mexicano para la Silvicultura Sostenible (CCMSS) from Mexico for its work in the Amanalco Valle Bravo Basin in central Mexico and World Vision Australia for popularizing Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in the Sahel region in Africa.

Consejo Civil Mexicano para la Silvicultura Sostenible (CCMSS), Mexico

CCMSS was recognized for its work in the Amanalco Valle Bravo Basin in central Mexico, which provides vital water and forest resources to millions of people. But the land in this valley has suffered environmental degradation recently due to population pressures and unplanned development. CCMSS has built the capacity of 1,500 smallholder farmer families to carry out sustainable agriculture and forestry management over 15,200 hectares. They are also piloting carbon finance (REDD+) and payment for ecosystem services programs in Mexico.


Tony Rinaudo pruning FMNR trees

About World Vision Australia and Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in West Africa

World Vision Australia has popularized the concept of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) [see also here and here] in West Africa and beyond, changing how thousands of farmers manage their land. In many degraded environments, the naturally-occurring trees and shrubs have been cut for firewood, building materials and to plant crops, but the roots remain under the ground – an "underground forest". By managing this underground forest back to maturity, degraded forests are restored, thereby reversing biodiversity loss and reducing vulnerability to climate change. When FMNR trees are integrated into crops and grazing pastures there is an increase in crop yields, soil fertility and organic matter, soil moisture and leaf fodder. There is also a decrease in wind and heat damage, and soil erosion. Over the last 20 years, World Vision Australia has trained thousands of farmers in FMNR, resulting in the restoration of thousands of hectares in 14 countries.

Further Reading/Watching:

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