The farmer Momakhol Alikhonova lives in a rural mountain area in Tajikistan where, previously, people cooked using firewood.
Photo: H. Liniger, WOCAT


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Protecting land is vital to achieving food security and reducing poverty. This is the insight on which the global WOCAT network was built two decades ago. WOCAT’s early focus on soil and water conservation has expanded into a tried and tested facility for decision support in all aspects of sustainable land management for every kind of land manager. There is a special focus on providing sustainable benefits for the rural poor, both efficiently and cost-effectively.

Sharing and enhancing knowledge on sustainable land management (SLM) improves land and livelihoods. In pursuing this vision, WOCAT, the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (, has become a global network committed to the task of identifying, documenting, making available and disseminating best practices in SLM.

SLM entails the maintaining of healthy natural land resources (soil, water, vegetation and animals), productive functions (food security), ecological functions (water, nutrient, and carbon cycles) and biodiversity. Neglecting these elements results in land degradation, which is a threat to the environment as well as to livelihoods, especially in regions where the majority of people directly depend on agricultural production. More than two billion people are already affected by desertification, land degradation and drought. Studies show that, under the latest scenarios for climate change, the situation is likely to worsen due to unsustainable use of soil and water. There is, therefore, a pressing need to improve food security, promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, and reduce the risk of disasters.

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