Dryland Forestry

The “DRIP(ple)” down effect – a revived drylands tool for enhanced knowledge sharing and greater upscaling


As a response to serious threats and pressures in the drylands, various initiatives and projects have been or are being planned and undertaken to maintain the health of soils in these regions, and to prevent, halt, or reverse land degradation processes in an effort to maintain land degradation neutrality, point 15.3 among the Sustainable Development Goals.

Why? Home to two billion people and covering around 40% of the earth’s land surface, drylands represent a key opportunity for addressing some of the major challenges faced by humankind, including a changing climate, rampant biodiversity loss, deforestation and poverty. In fact, dryland regions across the planet are particularly hard hit by processes such as the growing unpredictability of seasonal patterns (including drought and intensive rainfall), the loss of land productivity due to land clearance or unsustainable management and resulting food insecurity. With regards to restoration initiatives, however, project evaluation, knowledge management, and communication among land use stakeholders remains an important barrier to upscale successful sustainable land and forest management approaches.

This is where the FAO Drylands Restoration Initiatives Platform (DRIP) comes into play. DRIP will enable practitioners, project managers, policymakers, and other land management stakeholders to compile and analyse data, capture and share lessons, and facilitate communication among its users. Through DRIP, anyone involved in restoration initiatives can report on their progress using the tool’s brief and easy-to-understand questionnaire, which outputs standardised data for users to track and report on progress, to examine the contribution of specific project elements, and to design new and improved local projects. These efforts are closely linked with the work of the GEO LDN Initiative’s third working group, which aims to establish the platforms needed for land use and restoration stakeholders to collaborate on big data (including earth observation) analytics.

The output created in this way will inspire others and lead to the replication and scaling up of successful approaches, with a potential contribution to global commitments on dryland restoration and management initiatives. Furthermore, work is underway to launch the beta version of DRIP as part of the Framework for Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring (FERM) platform of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, to be launched on Environment Day, 5 June 2021. To this end, the design of the DRIP platform is being streamlined to best align with countries’ reporting procedures, whilst simultaneously creating synergies with databases such as WOCAT’s database of best land management practices and other FERM modules.

Trial time: Piloting of DRIP with the participation of restoration projects teams across the drylands will enter its first phase March-April to ensure that the technical architecture is sound. The subsequent second phase of testing, April-May, is aimed at collecting user perspectives by inviting project managers to use and provide feedback on the DRIP questionnaire and other aspects of the user interface.

The sweet experiences and lessons of your restoration initiative for thriving drylands landscapes and people? Do you have approaches to share for making progress towards Land Degradation Neutrality in the drylands? Let them DRIP!