FAO research on water in degraded drylands features at Bonn Challenge Latin America meeting

©FAO/Florent Eveille13 June 2017, Rome - FAO research focused on making the best use of water in degraded drylands to restore vegetation will be discussed this week at the ministerial section of the Bonn Challenge Latin America meeting in Honduras. The meeting will consider two important topics that are central to landscape restoration: forest governance, and creating forest-related employment.

FAO will launch two good practice briefings which deal with topics central to landscape restoration during the conference. The first briefing paper, Mechanized micro-catchments for water harvesting in degraded rangelands, discusses an innovative water-harvesting technique known as the Vallerani System for collecting water in degraded drylands. The mechanized microcatchment system combines traditional practices with modern technologies, using a modified plough pulled by a heavy-duty tractor to restore land productivity, improve soil conservation and collect water in degraded drylands with the aim of increasing livelihoods resilience.

The system, successfully tested in a number of countries with local involvement, can prepare 10 to 14 hectares of land per day for sowing plant species, with each hectare containing 500–700 microcatchments. A manual worker can only prepare 5-7 microcatchments per day. More than 200 000 hectares of degraded land in Africa, Asia and the Near East have already been prepared for restoration using the Vallerani System.

The second briefing, Combating desertification through the use of unconventional water resources, considers the use of unconventional water resources, such as recycled wastewater, to fight desertification by reducing the risks of drought and pollution through increased water volumes for productive activities and landscape restoration. At the same time, this would reduce the amount of untreated wastewater released into the environment while accelerating restoration of carbon and nutrients in degraded soils, increasing soil fertility and improving productivity.

An agroforestry paper, Agroforesteria para la restauración del paisaje (Agroforestry for landscape restoration), developed in collaboration between FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism and Forest Resources Management teams, will also be launched at the high-level meeting. The paper explores the potential of agroforestry to improve sustainability and resilience in degraded lands, including a case from Algeria, where an artificial wetland produced treated wastewater at minimal cost to irrigate a three-hectare forest plantation established for biomass production.

The conference is expected to make an important contribution to the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), which works to unite governments, organisations and communities to restore the world’s lost and degraded forests and their surrounding landscapes.

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of the world's deforested and degraded lands by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.

last updated:  Friday, June 16, 2017