FAO-SEC, in cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and national ministries, has initiated the project preparation phase for “Sustainable Land Management and Climate-Friendly Agriculture” with an inception workshop in Central Turkey on 25 July 2013. Its objective is to improve sustainability of agriculture and forest management through the diffusion and adoption of low-carbon technologies in Konya Closed Basin (KCB). This will be achieved with win-win benefits in land degradation, climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation as well as increased farm profitability and forest productivity. A fully-fledged project document is currently being developed in close cooperation with the stakeholders in KCB, namely the Ministry for Forestry and Water Affairs (MFWA) and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MFAL). It will include components such as rehabilitation of degraded land, climate-friendly agriculture and strengthening the enabling environment for multiple benefits from sustainable land management (SLM). The document is expected to be completed in May 2014 and, after submitting it for CEO approval, FAO can start implementation of the project.
Land degradation processes are very prominent in the central part of Turkey where arid and semi-arid climatic conditions prevail. Project activities will be piloted in the KCB in the middle of the Central Anatolian Plateau. Agricultural activity (both dryland and irrigated) is dominant, resulting in high human pressure on limited surface water and groundwater resources. But the Basin also harbours important natural sites with high ecological value, both in the upstream and downstream areas. Land degradation is accelerating in the KCB, which is evident from increased soil erosion, salinization in arable lands, significantly declining groundwater tables and the drying of wetlands. In recent years, the number and magnitude of wind erosion and dust storms have increased considerably due to degradation of pastures, inappropriate agricultural practices in arid conditions and the increasingly exposed dry beds of lakes and wetlands. The KCB features important steppe ecosystems and provides unique habitats for rare and endangered plant and animal species, which are threatened by the degradation processes.