Critically, all four of these variables are also the main indicators used by the government to report progress on Land Degradation Neutrality to the UNCCD.

While the CIAT team is based in Nairobi, Kenya, and our collaborators, World Soil Information (International Soil Reference and Information Centre – ISRIC) operating from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, we knew from the start that the success of land restoration efforts would depend on empowering local scientists to map and monitor the degradation and restoration processes and, more importantly, that methodologies needed to be adapted locally. Namibia’s model of Integrated Regional Land Use Planning (IRLUP) is based on stakeholder engagement with local communities. It is up to these communities to do the actual land restoration. If the activities involved are not accepted by the communities, they will likely fail. So it is important for them to be locally relevant and context-specific. Twenty land resources management professionals were trained in remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) and digital soil mapping (DSM) technologies using open source software; this enables participants to reproduce LDN baselines without additional software costs in the future.

The next steps

As part of a series of trainings, teams from different ministries and universities now lead the effort in collecting soil samples, identifying plant species, and digital soil mapping.