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Land condition change indicators for sustainable land resource management

J.R. Benites, Land and Water Development Division, FAO, Rome, Italy
F. Shaxson. Consultant in Land Husbandry, UK
M. Vieira, Project GCP/COS/012/NET, FAO, Costa Rica

Land resources management is the actual practice of the use(s) of the land by the local human population, which should be sustainable (FAO/Netherlands, 1991). In a broader sense it includes land-use planning, as agreed between stakeholders; legal, administrative and institutional execution; demarcation on the ground; inspection and control of adherence to the decisions; solving of land tenure issues; settling of water rights; issuing of concessions for plant and animal extraction (timber, fuelwood, charcoal and peat, non-wood products, hunting); promotion of the role of women and [other] disadvantaged groups in agriculture and rural development in the area; and the safeguarding of traditional rights of indigenous peoples (FAO, 1995).

Improved land management that ensures better resource use and promotes long-term sustainability is basic to future food production and to the economic welfare of rural communities. Because of the dynamic aspects of land management, a flexible and adaptive "process" approach for monitoring the quality and quantity of the world's land resources (such as soil, water, plant nutrients) and for determining how human activities affect these resources is essential. However, the systematic assessment of sustainability of current or planned land uses can be hampered by too many detailed data that are difficult to interpret, lack of baseline information from which to compare change, or data that are inconsistent over time or over geographic area (USDA, 1994).

Many researchers are trying to define sustainability indicators and to devise methods to monitor them in field conditions (FAO, 1995). There is not yet a sufficiently clear description and explanation of the features of sustainability indicators and of their limitations or weaknesses that may generate inconsistencies, create confusion, or lead to misinterpretation. Since one element of sustainability is to understand change (or impact), in either direction (degradation or improvement), this paper uses the term "change indicators" instead of sustainability indicators or land quality indicators. Indicators of change are needed to guide land users in their decisions on the management of their land and water resources and inputs.


From the land management point of view, the major concerns are:

¤ decline in quality of soils as rooting environments;
¤ erosion and loss of topsoil by wind and water;
¤ loss of vegetation cover, including woody perennials;
¤ acidification, soil fertility decline and plant nutrient depletion;
¤ salinity and salinization, particularly in irrigated systems.

While many of these processes are natural, their impacts are aggravated by inappropriate management systems and human-induced pressures. The effect of this is to reduce the productive potential of the land, and to reduce its capacity to serve as a natural filter or resilient buffer for other land uses. The common features of a land degradation problem are shown in Box 1.

Common features of a land degradation problem

It is commonly asserted that erosion and runoff are caused by 'deforestation', 'overgrazing' and 'over-cultivation'. This has led to many attempts to prevent rural people from doing such things, which has generally proved unpopular and unsuccessful. However, there are other more effective ways to limit erosion problems, within production systems and prevent the loss of: (a) soil cover; (b) organic matter in the soil; (c) spaces in the soil architecture, which may be overcome and recuperated by improved systems of management of the crop-soil complex (Shaxson, 1995).


Land qualities as used by FAO for many years in the context of land evaluation (FAO, 1976) are complex attributes (for example, nutrient availability) that affect the suitability of the land for a specified use in a distinct way. Land qualities can also be defined in negative terms, as "land limitations" (FAO, 1995). Illustrative listings of potentially relevant land qualities are given in the paper Land Resources Evaluation and the Role of Land-related Indicators.

Indicators are used increasingly to provide convenient descriptions of current state or condition of a resource, as well as to gauge performance and predict responses. Indicators are statistics or measures that relate to a condition, change of quality, or change in state. A distinction must be made between indicators and other types of statistics as shown in Box 2.

Distinction between indicators and other types of statistics

Measurement of some event or phenomenon produces raw data, which after processing are often published as statistics. These statistics can provide underlying information, or they could be indicators if they have a specified significance and are tied to some specific application - If the number of indicators is reduced by aggregating them according to some formula, then these aggregated ones are called indices.

While land quality describes the combined state of soil, water and vegetation cover for each unit of land, land quality indicators (LQIs) are needed to reflect the land's capacity to support biological systems for specific human uses (Hamblin, 1994).

The World Bank (Pieri et al. 1995) conceptual basis for the development of LQIs is a generic assessment of soil/land "health" under a pressure-state-response framework shown in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1. Pressure-state-response framework

Under this framework, Pressure (the causative factors) refers to the driving forces exerted on land by human activities and their impact on the status of land quality; the effects of an expanding or diminishing animal population, for example in a game park; environmental changes unrelated to terrestrial factors, such as the sun spot cycle. State characterizes the type, degree, spatial extent and rate of change of vegetation, soils, nutrients and water - comparable to the GLASOD assessment (paper on Global and Regional Databases for Development of State Land Quality Indicators: the SOTER and GLASOD Approach). Response characterizes the conscious efforts by land users and governments to remedy any degradational change. Sets of selected indicators identified during a recent international workshop (World Bank/ICRAF, 1994) for resource availability and for soil management strategies are shown in Boxes 3 and 4, respectively.


· Pressure Indicators

productivity of arable land
increased use of marginal lands
increased cropping intensity

· State Indicators

change in erosion
change in productivity (yield/ha)
change in water quality

· Response Indicators

change in out-migration
shift to more tolerant crops
change in rate of land abandonment
change in capital investment
change in input use efficiency
change in production systems
any positive response action by government/institutions


· Pressure Indicators

technologies imported from other dissimilar environments
technologies unrelated to range of natural variability/risk

· State Indicators

gaining/declining in nutrient status
gaining/declining in organic matter
gaining/declining in yield per unit area or yield per unit input
increased/reduced in wind and/or water erosion
increased/reduced in runoff/storm event
increased/reduced in acidification
increased/reduced in variability

· Response Indicators

increased use of manure and residues
change to more tolerant crops, or to crop to livestock mix
expansion of cultivated area/farm
increase in abandoned/degraded land
formation of farmer support groups/ conservation clubs

Three clusters of LQIs have been developed to reflect the pressure-state-response structure as shown in Box 5. A wide range of statistics is collected by FAO on demographic, financial, economic and production aspects that are useful to derive LQI clusters 1 and 3.


In each situation, there will be a different range of land factors for which changes could be observed, and from which indicators of change could be derived. Not everything that happens can or should be monitored. Land change indicators must be representative of or indicative of, or a proxy for, the factor considered important (such as production potential). Complex changes may be highlighted by choosing a limited number of suitable indicators which are regularly monitored and compared with previous readings back to the baseline for each one. Special studies might then be undertaken to characterize more of the details, for instance in concrete rural and agricultural development projects.


Cluster 1: Pressure (or driving force)

Estimates of the intensity of production, as well as the range of production systems used, number and types of products and the complexity of systems used such as area of crop, pasture or grazing land; potentially arable and pasture lands; proportion of monoculture/mixed farming, etc.

Cluster 2: State (or condition)

Measurements that express current quality of the land, as well as estimates of future land quality as reflected through land management practices such as estimates of actual to potential biological productivity; extent and severity of major soil constraints; etc.

Cluster 3: Response (from society)

a) Automatic effect of the changes, if no positive response from society is made.

b) Measures employed through policies and programmes to create awareness of the problem, improve land management technologies, and counter or ameliorate the impacts of land degradation such as the number and kinds of soil conservation awareness and education programmes; special credit programmes for soil conservation; etc.

To measure changes, it is essential that the baseline conditions are established at the very outset for people's attitudes (both farmers and advisory staff), for socio-economic conditions, and for biophysical conditions.

To determine nature of changes, direction of changes and rates of change, assessments need to be done on a recurring basis and compared with baseline data. Land managers therefore require land change indicators to monitor and evaluate what is changing, the processes by which change is occurring, and the sustainability of beneficial changes.

With carefully chosen key indicators, which may be direct or proxy, the work involved in monitoring the change is kept to a minimum. It is important that those making the measurements and observations make unbiased reports based on them, without favouring one interpretation or another - that is done during evaluations made from time to time. Both farmers and researchers need to be involved in monitoring and subsequent evaluations.

In the framework of an integrated, holistic approach to land-use decisions and management, the changes in important biophysical and socio-economic attributes of land units must be monitored, especially in matters such as:

¤ rates of adaptation and adoption of recommended or suggested practices;

¤ changes in areas under different land uses;

¤ changes in farm management practices;

¤ changes in yields and other outputs as a result of, as well as independently of, project interventions;

¤ changes in the condition of land resources, both positive and negative.



Once it has been decided which of the many possible specific indicators will be measured, the baseline condition for each change indicator (if not already available) should be defined at once before too much change has taken place. After each round of monitoring, the results are compared with the baseline condition, differences (if any) are analysed, trends identified, feedback provided to project management, and any necessary supplementary surveys initiated to provide further insights or explanations of what has been observed (based on Casley and Kumar, 1987; 1988; Lai, 1991 and UNESCO, 1984).

Criteria for selecting key land change indicators: data collection for monitoring should be pragmatic. The standards of data accuracy and reliability should not be as demanding for a management information system as for experimental studies and academic research. Other considerations, such as timeliness, relevance and cost-effectiveness, are more important.

Criteria for effective indicators, appropriate to what managers need to know, include:

¤ unambiguous definition;

¤ consistency and objective measurement, no matter who measures;

¤ specificity;

¤ sensitivity to changes in project situation, to reveal short-term movements rather than those with a long time-lag;

¤ ease of collection, within the capacities of the available team.

Types of data: two types of data will be needed in monitoring land changes in rural situations:

¤ Quantitative data: "How much?"; "How quickly?"; "What size and shape of area?" etc.
¤ Qualitative data: "What?"; "How?"; "When?"; "Why/why not?"; "Who?"; "Where?"

Qualitative data (including that provided by farmers themselves) may suggest aspects that it may be important to monitor quantitatively - as for instance changes in soil conditions.

Avoiding bias: in monitoring qualitative information it is important not to ask "loaded" questions which increase the likelihood of the questioner getting the answer he/she wishes to hear, for example: "How have these soil conservation measures been useful?", which tells the farmer what is the answer you are hoping for! Men, women and youths may each have significantly different perceptions and views of their surroundings and situations. Unexpected comments which do not conform with a questioner's own assumptions and preconceptions should not be discarded, as they may constitute important keys to understanding of significant alternative viewpoints.

Nature and scale of change: for understanding the nature of changes taking place, detailed information is probably best achieved from observations and records from single farms. For the scale of overall project effects to be determined, one also needs to find out over what area and on what percentage of farms similar results are to be found.

Rate of change: economic and social effects of project activities are ultimately the most significant, and probably the most quickly perceived, particularly by farm-family members, even within the space of one year. Significant changes in natural resource conditions following changes in people's decisions about how to use them are likely to become evident more slowly, probably over several years, for example: changes in forest cover; changes in soil structural conditions; changes in total produce output from an area.

Objectivity: to be as objective as possible, to the extent possible, the null hypothesis should be kept in mind: it is assumed at the outset that no change has occurred as a result of project effort unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary. Qualitative information can be used to frame provocative statements and questions of the form, for example: "These physical conservation works must take a lot of land out of production and be a nuisance - what was the reason for installing them?" Such obviously biased statements may provoke a true response from farmers.

Zoning: unless the whole area is very homogeneous there may be a need to zone it beforehand for various reasons. One reason is that different indicators are appropriate for different zones, that accurate results can only be achieved by separating out the different zones or different development programmes, land uses, or treatments that might be appropriate in each zone, etc. Zoning sensu strictu is a delineation of areas of rural lands that could be earmarked for one or another use or non-use, based on identical physico-biotic conditions and prevailing socio-economic infrastructure. The resulting units can be denominated as resource management domains (RMDs), i.e., areas within a broad physico-biotic zone that have similar socio-economic conditions; (FAO, 1995). The FAO agro-ecological zoning framework provides a regionalization scheme of particular relevance for the identification of key land change indicators. Tentative lists of LQIs for arid, semi-arid and sub-humid regions of Africa (World Bank/ICRAF, 1994) and LQIs for steeplands and acid savannahs areas of Latin America (World Bank/CIAT, 1994) are shown in Appendixes 1 and 2.

Multi-disciplinarity and inter-disciplinarity: a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach to assessing and analysing monitored information is essential, particularly because:

¤ both natural resource conditions and relationships between people and their surroundings are complex and dynamic;

¤ the same reality will be viewed differently by persons of different disciplines, including rural people themselves as intended beneficiaries;

¤ persons from social science and geographic disciplines have much to contribute at both planning and implementation stages of monitoring of projects concerned with natural resources and with the people who use them.

Special studies: special studies may be needed, following feedback of specific information, in order to examine a problem in depth, provide background to particular attitudes, determine whether an unexpected problem is caused by project actions, etc. They will be designed in order to answer specific questions at particular points in time, and thus differ from recurrent recording of the same indicators as undertaken in monitoring itself.

Analysis of change

It is not enough to monitor progress towards attainment of pre-determined project goals, nor merely to record end results. It is also important to understand the processes involved in producing the observed effects, both socio-economic as well as agro-ecologic. For this, it is necessary to monitor factors within a geographical area which can be influenced or managed by the rural communities (such as resources of land, labour, capital, their attitudes and management skills) but also those factors outside their farms and outside their control (such as weather conditions, market conditions, policies and legislation, availability of technical support, infrastructure provision, population pressures on land, etc.) so as to be able to judge the effects of these vis-à-vis project actions in affecting farmers' opinions, decisions and reactions.

Analysis of land change data will involve both place-to-place comparisons (e.g., between resource management domains at a given time), time-to-time comparisons (e.g., changes in land use in a particular resource management domain over a given period) and - if possible - with-and-without project situations (e.g., comparisons between apparently equivalent farms within as well as outside the resource management domains).

For time-to-time comparisons, the same individuals, groups, farms or sites must be used on each occasion, to provide directly comparable time-series of data.

For with-and without comparisons (areas with project assistance vs. those representing unaffected situations), the same questions should be asked, the same indicators used, with individuals, groups, farms or sites as similar as possible in both situations except for their exposure to project actions.

Frequency of change monitoring:

¤ This will vary according to the type change. It may be more than once a year: (inherent characteristic of the farming or land-use system, for example: labour requirements for different seasonal tasks; availability of water in river or borehole in each month; changes in percentage ground-cover as a crop matures);

¤ once a year (e.g., yield of particular crop on the farm plot);

¤ every 2-3 years (e.g., development of local institutions);

¤ miscellaneous timings (e.g., adhoc observations may suggest a need to monitor a particular factor not yet specified).

Outputs of land change monitoring

Reports to higher authority are the primary output of a land change monitoring exercise. These may be routine monitoring activities or in-depth studies for particular purposes. It is important however that the information contained in them is interpreted accurately and communicated effectively and quickly in a manner which can be easily understood. The task of monitoring staff therefore includes:

¤ reducing the mass of detail into clearly labelled tables;

¤ integrating similar materials from various parts of the information system;

¤ assembling the results over time by geographical area, so that trends and inter-area comparisons become apparent;

¤ ensuring that the analysed and interpreted material is credible and, if unexpected or unusual, backed by specific supporting evidence;

¤ preparing brief, concise and clear narrative material which is timely and designed for the specific target audience.

Valuable data may be rendered useless if they are not analysed and presented in a relevant form. On the other hand, an excess of analysis using statistical techniques misapplied to data that do not meet quality requirements may result in presentation of results with spurious reliability and coefficients that the user does not understand (Casley and Kumar, 1987).


FAO is developing and has applied a pioneering methodology designed to change concepts concerning soil erosion and conservation to fit better the wide range of complex situations encountered in small-farm agriculture of the steeplands of Costa Rica. There, sustainability depends primarily on the maintenance and improvement of soil conditions, plus the satisfaction of farm families which leads to them wanting to stay on the land because their lives are becoming more secure and satisfying.

One main change in the project's soil conservation approach is from considering farmers as part of the problem, to recognizing them as part of the solution. In this regard, farmers' comments on changed characteristics and qualities of their soils are important signals, and give a complementary, pragmatic and integrated impression of what may be measurable, for example: porosity; soil-structure stability; water-holding capacity; colour; pH; total and plant-available nutrient content; organic-C content; and worm count (see Box 6).


Farmers used indigenous indicators for determining the reduction in soil erosion. Some of the indicators included: soil becoming softer over the years; plants growing more uniformly; changing colour of soils from dull brown to darker colours; contour walls becoming smoother without slumping during the rainy season; land strips on the contour farm becoming flatter; water flowing out of field and water in nearby creeks are fairly clear in contrast to muddy conditions in the past; stones or gravel on the soil not visible any more; decreased frequency of landslides and contour wall slumps; sticky soils becoming more friable, thereby absorbing much of rainwater, thereby reducing the speed of rain water flow on the surface; increase in the depth of top soils on the farm; less and less soil deposits in contour canals, soil traps and checkdams. The soil getting darker, softer, water going in more easily, and the carabao [water-buffalo] does not get so tired when ploughing, (Bhuktan et al., 1994).

Changes in water quantity, time-distribution, evenness of flow, quantities of runoff and turbidity with eroded soil materials are likely to be noted by farmers, and can be measured and compared with baseline conditions.

The project set up a provisional list of land change indicators for the purpose of the assessment of project progress and impact on the state of land, sustainability of results, autonomous spread of project-initiated ideas, background factors and change in output and income (Shaxson, 1995).

The project also compiled a list on the State of Land Conditions as they relate both to conditions on the farms and to those outside the farms but within the group's allocated area or catchment (see Table 1).

Sustainability: a most important aspect of sustainability, besides stability of the soil, is whether people wish to stay on their farms using and refining the improvements they have made with the project's assistance (see Table 2).

Autonomous spread of project-initiated ideas: a good idea will spread on its own without need for massive expansion of the extension service. There are two main indications of effectiveness: (a) the adaptation by farmers of one or more original ideas or techniques introduced by the project, so as to fit each particular situation; (b) information about successful improvements being spread by farmer-to-farmer contacts (see Table 3).

Background factors: certain background conditions require monitoring to provide possible bases for explaining some of the changes and variations observed within pilot areas. Weather conditions affect crop yields and farm profitabilities. Changes in policies, etc. alter farmers' frame of reference within which decisions are made (see Table 4).

Changes in output and income: considerable amounts of detail can be derived from the socio-economic surveys (see Table 5).


The indicators are many and often difficult to estimate or measure precisely. More work is needed at country level to determine some of these parameters. The indicators to be developed should be of primary use by (sub)national policy-makers and international funding agencies for integrated land resources planning and management (Chapter 10 Agenda 21). Development of field projects may be one effective method of improving the estimation or measurement of land quality indicators, as in the case of the soil conservation project in Costa Rica.

TABLE 1. State and changes of land conditions

('past' below, refers to a year that should be specified)


Monitoring Interval

State of soil characteristics: observed changes from past

¤ Farmers' comments and indicators


¤ organic matter content

¤ Colour (Munsell colour chart)

2 years

¤ Laboratory analyses

¤ structure/porosity conditions

¤ Infiltration rate measurements

2 years

¤ Pore-space analysis

¤ Photos

¤ water-holding capacity

¤ Farmers' indicators, comments on plant responses in drought

2 years

¤ Laboratory: pF curves

2 years

¤ ease of tillage

¤ Farmers' comments on time taken for tillage/ha.; tiredness of animals after tillage

1 year

¤ Dynamometer readings

1 year

¤ reduced erodibility

¤ Farmers' indicators; their comments re intense rainstorms' effects on soil losses

1 year

¤ soil biological activity

¤ Transects: no. of worm-casts/metre

1 year
(before harvest)

State of the productive potential of the land, and comparison with past

¤ Farmers' comments, observations, indicators


¤ efficiency of plant production

¤ Kg. fertilizer per kg. output

1 year

¤ Area sq. metres per unit output of given crop

1 year

¤ pest and disease occurrence

¤ Farmers' observations, indicators

2 weeks

¤ Pest counts, transects

2 weeks

¤ Expenditures on pesticides etc.

1 year

¤ Farmers' comments, observations, indicators

1 month +

Occurrence and severity of runoff and erosion; and comparison with past

¤ Frequency of need to re-seed, replant, re-apply fertilizer


¤ loss of inputs etc.

¤ Photos


¤ Measurements from fixed points

1 year

¤ rate of increase in gullies' size

¤ Point - transects - lines

2 weeks

¤ Quadrats - areas

2 weeks

¤ reduced erosivity/crop cover

¤ Overhead photos

2 weeks

State of water supplies and comparison with past

¤ Women's comments re streams' and boreholes' reliability in dry

6 months

¤ amounts


¤ quality

¤ Measurements of yield, streamflow

2 months

¤ Women's comments


¤ Laboratory analyses

4 months

Protection of reserved areas, state and comparison with past

¤ extent of area under native vegetation protected by group

1 year

TABLE 2. Sustainability



Monitoring Interval

Is there evidence of people preferring to stay on the farms rather than take other work?

¤ unwillingness to sell land

¤ Per-hectare value of land (a) per individual farmer (b) in general Pilot Area

1 year

¤ investment of own funds in water-supply system

¤ Household

1 year

¤ investment in soil improvement

¤ Number of heaps of manure and/or compost, per ha

1 year, pre-planting

¤ tree planting

¤ Number of well-kept spontaneous tree nurseries

6 months

¤ Number of trees planted + surviving

1 year

¤ non-essential investments in house and garden

¤ Ornamental trees, garden layout, etc; kitchen gardens established

1 year

¤ autonomous development of common-interest groups

¤ Number of groups

1 year

¤ Diversity of interests

Is there continuity of interest in project suggestions?

¤ size of each farming group

¤ Numbers attending

Each meeting

¤ constancy of individuals' membership

¤ List of names attending

Each meeting

¤ acknowledged usefulness of group

¤ Members' comments

1 year

¤ shared investments

¤ Individuals' own money into jointly-owned equipment or buildings, etc.


Do the field staff feel a sense of interest and commitment?

¤ Recorded attitudes and comments of Regional and Agency staff


TABLE 3. Autonomous spread



Monitoring Interval

Are farmers adopting favourable technologies?

¤ No. of farmers in group adopting a suggested new technology without modification

1 year

¤ No. of farmers experimenting with and adapting a suggested new technology before implementing as an on-farm routine

6 months

¤ No. of 'farmers-collaborators' adapting and implementing more than one improved technology in their own farming systems

1 year

¤ No. of farmers wanting to repeat own trials of a particular technology for more than one year

6 months

Is there continuity of interest from year to year?

¤ No. of farmers taught a new technology by farmers in original groups, within Pilot Areas

1 year

Is there any spread outwards from original farmers?

¤ No. of farmers taught 'second-hand' by those themselves taught by farmers in original groups


¤ No. of unexpected requests for project assistance in starting new groups within or outside 'recommendation domains' of original Pilot Areas

TABLE 4. Background factors



Monitoring Interval

What have been the climatic conditions?

¤ Daily rainfall, as close to farm sites as possible (even on-farm, simple raingauges)

Daily, analysed 3 months

¤ Other weather parameters, particularly temperatures, relative humidity, wind.

Monthly, analysed 1 year

How have costs and prices varied?

¤ Trends at local markets, input stores, traders

Monthly, analysed 1 year

Have there been changes in policies, legislation, and/or institutional arrangements?

¤ Note as they occur


TABLE 5. Changes in output and income



Monitoring Interval

Main indicators

Has total output per farm risen?

¤ Farmers' comments

1 year

¤ Farmers' records

Has total output for the area risen?

¤ Cooperatives' and local traders' records

2-3 years

Has output become less variable year-to-year?

¤ Comparisons of above

1 year

Has food security per household increased?

¤ Volume of storage per household

1 year

¤ Dietary variety: number of crops grown for on-farm consumption

1 year

Has the yield of each crop on the farm risen?

¤ Farmers' records

1 year

¤ Crop-cutting + weighing of output from small plots

Up to 1 year

Has the diversity of crops on farm increased?

¤ Hectares under each crop type

Has the proportion of the farm needed to satisfy subsistence needs reduced?

¤ Hectares under subsistence crops

1 year

Has mixed farming developed?

¤ Types and numbers of animals

1 year

Other indicators

Is crop-plants' development quicker and more profuse?

¤ Crop height (relative to height/age/yield curves)

¤ Crop cover (relative to cover/yield relations)

2 weeks

¤ Frequency of necessary weeding

2 weeks

Has plant density of crops and pastures increased?

¤ Count plants/unit length (line transect)

3-6 months

And others as indicated by farmers

¤ and others as indicated by farmers

As appropriate


Bhuktan, J.P., Basilio, C.S., Killough, S.A., De los Reyes, M.F.L., Operio, S.C. and Locaba, R.V. 1994. Participatory Upland Agro-Ecosystem Management: An Impact Study. Abstract of paper in New Horizons Workshop, Bangalore, India, 28 Nov.-2 Dec., 1994. (forthcoming: eds. Pretty et al.). London: International Institute for Environment and Development.

Casley, D.J. and Kumar, K. 1987. Project Monitoring and Evaluation in Agriculture. Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins University Press, for the World Bank.

Casley, D.J. and Kumar, K. 1988. The Collection, Analysis and Use of Monitoring and Evaluation Data. Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins University Press, for the World Bank., 174 pp.

FAO. 1976. A Framework for land evaluation. Soils Bulletin 32, FAO, Rome. 79 p.

FAO/Netherlands. 1991. Conference on Agriculture and the Environment, 'S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, 15-19 April 1991. Report of the Conference, Vol. 2.

FAO. 1995. Planning for sustainable use of land resources: toward a new approach. Background paper to FAO's Task Managership for Chapter 10 of Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). FAO Land and Water Bulletin 2, Rome. 60 p.

Hamblin, A. 1994. Guidelines for Land Quality Indicators in Agricultural and Resource Management Projects. Draft Report (Unpublished). World Bank, Washington D.C. 38 p.

Lai, K.C. 1991. Monitoring and evaluation of soil conservation projects. Soil Conservation Notes N° 25, 2-19 Oct. 1991. FAO/AGLS, Rome

Pieri, C., Dumanski, J., Hamblin, A. and Young, A. 1995. Land Quality Indicators. World Bank Discussion Papers 315, World Bank, Washington D.C. 63 p.

Shaxson, F. 1995. Planificación participativa para uso, manejo y conservación de suelos y agua. Consultant Report. (unpublished). San Jose, Costa Rica. 135 p.

UNESCO. 1984. Project Evaluation: Problems of Methodology. UNESCO, Paris. 141 p.

USDA. 1994. Agricultural resources and environmental indicators. US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Natural Resources and Environment Division. Agricultural Handbook No. 705. Washington, D.C. pp. 25-33.

World Bank/CIAT. 1994. Land Quality Indicators for the Lowland Savannas and Hillsides of Tropical America. Workshop on Land Quality Indicators, 9-11 June, 1994, Cali, Colombia.

World Bank/ICRAF. 1994. Proceedings of the Land Quality Indicators for Rainfed Agricultural Systems in Arid, Semi-Arid and Sub-Humid Agroenvironments in Africa (unpublished). 2nd International Workshop on Development Land Quality Indicators, Nairobi, Kenya, 13-16 December 1994.



Arid Lands - Mainly Grazing with Opportunity Cropping

All possible indicators considered:

¤ Livestock pressure: diversity (90 species)
¤ Livestock: people ratio
¤ Boom-bust (climatic cycle) duration
¤ Mobility patterns (degree of mobility)

Short-return indicators for grazing lands (within a year):

¤ Number of different livestock
¤ Condition of animals (skins, ticks, seeing ribs on animals)
¤ Ratio of livestock: people (high = less pressure; low = high pressure)
¤ Meat prices or markets

Long-term (> 2-5 years)


¤ Density
¤ Land cover changes
¤ Proportion of bare land and loss of trees
¤ Proportion of palatable species
¤ Species shift

Soil indicators

¤ Thickness of wind-borne deposits
¤ Loss of top soil
¤ Salt encrustation
¤ Gullies and rills
¤ Chlorosis

Cropland indicators

Deterioration of cropland:

¤ Progression (shift) of cropland areas as land deteriorates
¤ Number of weed species on fallow lands
¤ Condition of crop
¤ Presence of certain weed species (e.g., striga)
¤ Change of surface soil colour from dark to pale

Semi-Arid Lands - Broad Categories of Issues

1. Mismatch between Resource Availability and Management:

· Resource Availability:

¤ Declining arable land per caput
¤ Water supply
¤ Fuelwood (on-farm and household energy)
¤ Level of investment (on-farm)
¤ Off-farm income
¤ Biophysical variability and risk

· Resource Management:

¤ Declining soil fertility
¤ Runoff and erosion
¤ Inadequate soil and crop management
¤ Ratio of actual to potential land use/productivity
¤ Risk management strategy, e.g., crop and animal diversity

2. Policy Environment:

¤ Marketing
¤ Land-use policy and land tenure
¤ Policies towards cash crops
¤ Alternative support systems

3. Infrastructure:

¤ Input availability and supplies
¤ Education and training
¤ Research and development
¤ Communication

4. Awareness:

¤ Extension services (outreach and efficiency)
¤ Local farmer knowledge

5. Research Priorities:

· Main emphasis should be on reliable data

· Develop methods to increase usefulness of available data:

¤ Census
¤ Project
¤ Benchmark sites

· Increase reliability of national census, timeliness and data quantity:

¤ Special census

· Include small module for on-farm land management in the national census to collect necessary data.

· All future data collection efforts should take advantage of modem, emerging, information technologies.

Subhumid Lands

Intensity - Diversity of land-use

Prop. of cultivated land:

¤ Veg. cover - biomass, diversity and key species
¤ Carrying capacity - FAO method using different population density levels of technology
¤ Livestock density
¤ Upgrading - degrading land (ratio)
¤ Crop and livestock diversity index
¤ Diversity of land-use system compared with suitability

Land quality

¤ Erosion factor - from USLE
¤ Carbon balances (input-output models)
¤ Farm nutrient balances
¤ Water quality and quantity for drinking - silt load downstream, stream flow

Soil fertility


¤ Government policies on land
¤ Levels of poverty
¤ Health and nutrition status of household
¤ Production - actual yield to target yield
¤ Access to resources:

· information
· natural
· economic

¤ Management - economic productivity of land
¤ Value of land and the market
¤ Equatability
¤ Types of access:

· farmer organizations
· markets
· barter
· social network
· extension

¤ Economic diversity of sources of wealth:

· level of market integration
· credit, schools



Land Quality Indicators for Acid Savannahs

PRESSURE: Issue is Intensity of Land Use/Agrodiversity

Proportion of land-use types
Stability of net farm profits

Issue is Impact of Agriculture on the Environment/Biodiversity

Proportion of land-use types
Proportion gallery forests, wetland, savannahs
Land management practices

STATE: Issue is Soil and Water Quality

Nutrient balance, fertilizer, lime
Water table
Land management practices
Ratio actual: potential productivity
Weed community
Sediment load
Water contamination
Percent soil cover

Issue is Productivity

Nutrient balance, fertilizer, lime
Net farm profits
Trends in crop yields
Ratio actual: potential productivity

RESPONSE: Issue is Awareness

Adoption of conservation measures
Impacts of new technologies

Land Quality Indicators for Hillsides

PRESSURE: Issue is Impacts of Human Activities

Human population density
Age-sex ratios
Access to natural resources
Access to markets and services

Issue is Intensity of Land Use and Management

Agrodiversity by farm
Agrodiversity by region
Major land-use types


Issue is Soil Quality

Soil fertility index
Vegetative cover on the land

Issue is Water Quality

Availability domestic, industrial, irrigation (on-site and off-site)
Water quality (on-site and off-site)

Issue is Biodiversity

Natural habitat (extent and fragmentation)
Species variation

RESPONSE: Issue is Awareness

Adoption of conservation farming practices by area

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