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ProTierras: an initiative for Sustainable Land Management in Mexico

It is estimated that over half of agricultural land in Mexico is degraded, that is, it experiences a loss of fertility (or capacity) to produce food or conserve its vegetation. To combat soil erosion and degradation, the "Program for the Promotion of Sustainable Land Management" (ProTierras) was implemented since 2016, with FAO being the agency responsible for the supervision and provision of technical advice in coordination with the government of Mexico (SEMARNAT and SADER)*. The funding for this project was provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).


Currently, Mexico is implementing the program to promote sustainable land management ProTierras, whose objective is to reduce land degradation through the development of a sustainable territorial management model, and the strengthening of local institutions and producers, influencing public policies to facilitate the coordination of multisectoral investments in three priority micro-regions located in the states of Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Zacatecas.

ProTierras is based on a watershed management approach, capacity building in territorial management through field schools and the development of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices based on local participatory processes. The project aims to improve the life of participants, with a focus on increasing opportunities for youth and women.

SLM is a measure to combat land degradation processes, which include overgrazing, erosion, as well as other unsustainable practices that can lead to degradation. For FAO, SLM is the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions.

The main focus of LADA (Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands) is the development of land degradation assessment tools and SLM, while the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) has as its main objective the promotion and support of SLM, focusing mainly on soil and water conservation. This methodology is a strategic tool for ProTierras, since the project aims to create a model for the reduction of land degradation through a strategy based on the implementation of a territorial management model for SLM at the microregional level.

The main results of ProTierras so far, can be summarized as it follows: (1) Creation of Territorial Management Committees; (2) 94,730 ha under territorial planning following a Sustainable Land Management approach; (3) 120 training sessions through Field Schools on more than 15 SLM topics, implemented in more than 100 sites; (4) 245 technical assistance sessions for projects; (5) 1,017 producers trained in SLM and 108 community promoters identified.

The project has a positive impact from both socio-economic and environmental point of views. In particular, by strengthening local governance, and prioritizing the restoration of degraded sites and the promotion of productive activities, it contributes to the conservation, development and restoration of natural ecosystems and agroecosystems with first evidences of reduced physical and chemical degradation and improved soil quality and crop productivity.

*SEMARNAT (Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources) and SADER (Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development)

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