Climate change programming and natural resource management are of crucial importance for increasing the productivity and general well-being of the broader agriculture sector in Lesotho. FAO has been developing a number of complementary projects with a focus on the environment, natural resource management and climate change adaptation. One of these initiatives has been instrumental in bringing users and generators of spatial data on one platform and facilitating the land cover assessment work including the accompanying interpretation processes under the technical guidance of FAO experts. As a result, major progress has been achieved in developing Lesotho’s land cover maps. This information will provide an important baseline for planning sustainable land management interventions and broader natural resource management activities.
Severe land degradation, including excessive soil erosion caused by water run-off, inappropriate agronomic practices and overgrazing, is one the main contributors to declining food security in Lesotho. This situation is exacerbated by the impact of climate change and compounded by socioeconomic challenges to sustainable production, nutrition and food security. Up to date information on the status of national natural resources is scarce and fragmented, yet the need for evidence base decision making is critical in the protection and sustainable exploitation of Lesotho’s natural resources.
Since 2012, FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) and the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation (MFRSC) are implementing the Resilience Strategy, promoting adaptation to climate change, promotion of sustainable farming systems with emphasis on sustainable land management. The FAO Resilience Strategy is implemented at national level and involves an increasing range of stakeholders with expansion in schools and inclusion of local leaders.
As part of this work, the National Land Cover database has been implemented in partnership with the Government of Lesotho through Committee for Environment Data Management (CEDAMA) chaired by the Bureau of Statistics. This new database, created with financial assistance from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), is an important element of the resilience strategy for Lesotho.
The database covering the entire territory of Lesotho is developed through multi-spectral image fusion (or pan sharpening) technique using satellite imagery and aerial photography.
This newly enriched Lesotho dataset will strengthen organizational capacities in the generation and utilization of spatial information for Natural Resources, Agriculture Management and agro-environmental studies. Furthermore, it will build and support the dialogue and technical information flow among Government institutions, national and local authorities, farmers, stakeholders in natural resources management and will provide information for evidence-based decision making.
Apart from providing a robust baseline of the current state of land cover in the country as of 2014, the Lesotho Land Cover datasets open the development of diverse range of applications, such as:
- Land Cover Change analysis of agriculture, forestry, rangeland, urban areas, etc;
- Disaster Risk Maps;
- Erosion Risk Assessment;
- Rangeland Monitoring;
- Above-ground Biomass assessment and change;
- Monitoring frameworks for Integrated Water Catchment Initiatives;
- Development of a Land Resources Information System.